Employers push Highmark, UPMC for details of transition plan
A group representing many of Pittsburgh's largest employers wants Highmark Inc. and UPMC to quickly release a detailed report on which UPMC facilities and services will be available to Highmark members when a contract between the two feuding companies expires at the end of the year.
Pittsburgh Business Group on Health, which represents Western Pennsylvania employers who provide health coverage to about 250,000 people, said a state-mandated deadline of July 31 for a transition plan is “too late” for companies that need to make decisions now about health insurance for their employees.
“There needs to be a greater sense of urgency on the part of Highmark and UPMC to resolve outstanding issue and publish complete transitional plans so employers can make good, sensible decisions about their company's health plans,” said Jessica Brooks, executive director of the group.
The group is asking for greater involvement in and transparency from state officials who are sitting down with UPMC and Highmark officials to discuss what will happen to Highmark members with UPMC doctors.
When a reimbursement contract that gives Highmark members in-network access to UPMC's doctors and hospitals expires at the end of this year, Highmark members will have to pay costly out-of-network rates at UPMC.
UPMC has refused to renew the contract because Highmark has begun a rival hospital system, the Allegheny Health Network.
Gov. Tom Corbett last week called for UPMC and Highmark officials to begin discussions on a transition plan. The first meeting of Corbett's “Patients First” team took place at the end of last week, but no details of the meeting were released.
“While we think it was vitally important for Gov. Corbett to encourage discussion between Highmark and UPMC, and applaud his directive, we have heard similar requests over the last two years from local, regional and state officials that has not yet led to a clear resolution, or furthermore, clarity regarding a viable transition effort for employees,” Brooks said.
Highmark, which has been advocating for a new contract with UPMC, “appreciates the support of the business community,” spokesman Leilyn Perri said. “Highmark will continue to work towards an agreement that benefits our customers and the entire community.”
UPMC spokesman Paul Wood said the hospital system looks forward to working with the Corbett administration “on their collective goal of the best possible, patient-focused transition plan as the contracts expire at the end of this year.”
The Pittsburgh Business Group on Health has more than 70 members, including University of Pittsburgh, Giant Eagle, Dick's Sporting Goods, the city of Pittsburgh and Alcoa.
In a March survey of its members, the group found that nearly two-thirds of respondents said they thought UPMC should be legally required to contract with Highmark. But barring a resolution, 28 percent of the group's members said they would replace their Highmark health plans with a carrier that will have full access to UPMC next year. And 53 percent said they would offer their employees a choice of Highmark and a plan from Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., United Healthcare or UPMC Health Plan.
Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or email@example.com.
Add Alex Nixon to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal
- U.S. calls Fiat Chrysler recall record dismal
- Critics find hotels’ hidden fees to be inhospitable
- U.S. employers add 223K jobs, jobless rate falls to 5.3%
- 2Q mutual fund review: Momentum stalls
- Facebook lures premium content from YouTube
- Halliburton to close Indiana County office
- Rules holding for-profit schools accountable for student earnings go into effect
- Obama overtime proposal slammed
- Alpha Natural Resources buys out European partner in Marcellus venture
- Big Heart Pet Brands to leave Pittsburgh, affecting 225 jobs