Letter to the editor: Josh Shapiro and Medicare competition
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, appears on the front page taking UPMC to court to force it to permit Highmark Medicare recipients to forever be entitled to UPMC’s lower in-network rates for their physicians, services and hospitals, eliminating the inherent competition between the two firms (“AG Shapiro: UPMC’s ‘corporate greed’ hurting patients,” Feb. 7, TribLIVE).
A senior woman attending Shapiro’s recent press conference complained that her UPMC oncologist, who she has seen for seven years, will become an “out-of-network,” more expensive doctor, while she desires to remain with Highmark. This action would disadvantage UPMC and all its clients, while Highmark expands its business with the best prices in both going to their clients.
News for Shapiro, the headlined woman and those who read this letter: Each fall, Medicare-eligible people can elect to change their provider. There is actually real competition to change providers if it’s beneficial. Republicans generally propose “across state lines” competition to expand these choices. Shapiro’s distressed woman can simply change her coverage to UPMC and continue using her oncologist at UPMC’s “in-network” rates. This is competition.
People are not stupid and do not need the likes of Shapiro to litigate reduced competition for political purpose. How much state money is he wasting on this case when all that’s needed is some good advice to the distressed woman? (Refer to the “Medicare & You” handbook, issued annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to find the best Pennsylvania program for you.)