Lawmakers intervene in Highmark-UPMC feud
State Republican and Democratic lawmakers from Western Pennsylvania on Thursday urged UPMC and Highmark to stop feuding and restart negotiations.
"They need to work out these important issues without cutting off access to the quality health care," said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, who joined 11 colleagues at a Downtown news conference to ask the companies to find a solution.
UPMC refuses to negotiate to renew contracts with Highmark because the insurer is in the midst of a $475 million takeover of West Penn Allegheny Health System -- UPMC's competitor.
In a letter to Highmark CEO Kenneth R. Melani and UPMC CEO Jeffrey A. Romoff, lawmakers warned that the split could be "devastating to those who are undergoing treatment for serious, terminal or chronic illness."
"The public clearly won't be serviced if health care access is limited," said state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills.
Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein said Highmark officials agree with the legislators' concerns and are prepared to meet with UPMC "anytime, anywhere."
UPMC spokesman Paul Wood said UPMC officials want to meet, but only to discuss how to end the relationship smoothly, not to negotiate.
Turzai said legislators don't have a legislative remedy to force the two companies to renew their contracts. He said the state Senate and House insurance committees could hold hearings next month in Pittsburgh and Erie.
Wood said UPMC officials are willing to attend public hearings to explain the changes that will occur when UPMC's contracts with Highmark expire June 30, 2012.
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.