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UPMC answers West Penn's amended complaint

| Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 3:12 p.m.

UPMC mostly agrees with West Penn Allegheny Health System's recitation of the various mergers and contracts it has negotiated over the years but denies, in a federal court document filed today, the interpretation its competitor places on those actions.

"By way of further response, UPMC states that it competes vigorously with West Penn Allegheny and other competitors, but denies that it does so in an unlawful manner," UPMC said.

West Penn Allegheny claims in its 3-year-old antitrust lawsuit that UPMC has "used various predatory tactics to advance its scheme to crush" the health care system. The lawsuit originally claimed there was a conspiracy between UPMC and Highmark Inc. to drive West Penn Allegheny out of business, but West Penn Allegheny dropped Highmark from the lawsuit after the insurer agreed to buy the struggling health care system.

UPMC, in the answer filed today, includes a counterclaim that the agreement for Highmark to take over West Penn is just the latest in a series of antitrust moves by Highmark and West Penn Allegheny to keep other insurers from entering Western Pennsylvania's market. UPMC filed a separate lawsuit against Highmark in May making the same allegations.

UPMC and Highmark have agreed to drop all the lawsuits once Highmark completes its acquisition of West Penn Allegheny, but West Penn Allegheny contends that Highmark can't force it to drop its lawsuit even after the merger is completed.

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