Share This Page

UPMC snubs Dem policy hearing

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A UPMC physician stood against his employer Friday and urged the health care giant to enter into a commercial contract with health insurer Highmark Inc.

“Nonprofit UPMC is obligated to be a responsible steward to our hospitals honoring the needs of all citizens, not just the ones they choose,” Dr. Dennis Gabos told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee during a hearing at the Allegheny County Courthouse.

Gabos, a cardiologist at UPMC Passavant in McCandless, was one of several people who spoke before the committee in support of legislation forcing a contract between the two health care rivals. UPMC has said it will not negotiate a reimbursement contract with Highmark when the current one expires on Dec. 31.

“The public debate over this issue has intensified,” said State Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills. “Those who need medical treatment should not be caught up in a dispute.”

UPMC had no comment. Officials did not send representatives to the hearing, drawing criticism from several members of the committee. Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, called UPMC's absence an “act of arrogance.”

Deborah Rice-Johnson, president of Highmark Health Plans, told the committee it has a responsibility to intervene in the dispute. She said severing the UPMC-Highmark relationship will lead to higher costs and duplication of services.

“Without a contract, events may unfold in this region that will be disruptive, potentially placing consumers in the crossfire and making an already complicated and expensive health care system that much more difficult to navigate and afford,” Rice-Johnson said.

Two leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate, Don White of Indiana and Joseph Scarnati of Jefferson County, oppose any legislation forcing a Highmark-UPMC contract. Their support would be necessary to pass a bill.

Gabos, who has voiced concerns in the past, said he has heard from high-level UPMC physicians who agree with him.

“The vast majority of health care professionals do not agree with UPMC,” he said.

Luis Fábregas is Trib Total Media's medical editor. He can be reached at 412-320-7998 or lfabregas@tribweb.com.

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.