ShareThis Page

Highmark, Butler Health System reach multi-year deal

| Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Highmark and Butler Health System have renewed a contract that ensures Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield members will have access to the health system.

Highmark and Butler did not reveal details of the multi-year pact.

Both parties said that the new Affordable Care Act, which took effect Tuesday, did not affect the terms of the agreement.

“It makes community hospitals like Butler Health System even more important to the people we serve,” said Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger of the contract, which spells the insurer's reimbursement for services provided by the hospital. “They are critical partners for the Allegheny Health Network.”

The Allegheny Health Network includes Allegheny General and West Penn hospitals in Pittsburgh.

Butler Health System spokeswoman Connie Downs said she did not know how many of its patients are Highmark customers.

“We have patients who have Highmark insurance, but we also have contracted agreements with other insurance plans as well, including UPMC,” Downs said in a statement.

Pittsburgh-based UPMC, the region's largest health network, and Highmark, the region's largest insurer, have fought bitterly since June 2011, when Highmark decided to enter the hospital business though the Allegheny Health Network.

UPMC refused to renew contracts with Highmark that expire next year because it considers Highmark a competitor. Highmark and UPMC agreed to continue in-network access to UPMC services through 2014.

Legislation in Harrisburg to require hospitals to accept all insurance companies is aimed directly at the UPMC and Highmark Inc. dispute, but critics say the bills go far beyond the state's legitimate role in the health care marketplace.

Earlier this year, Highmark hired two neurologists from UPMC who work at Butler Memorial Hospital in the new PA Brain and Spine Institute.

Also, Butler Health and UPMC Cancer Center formed a joint-venture cancer center and acquired Butler Radiation Oncology Associates.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.