Pennsylvania Governor Becomes Deeply Involved in Working to Resolve UPMC-Highmark Conflict

July 1, 2014
As the long-running contractual debate between Highmark Inc. and the UPMC health system drags on, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has taken an active role in the dispute

As the long-running contractual debate between Highmark Inc. and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) health system drags on, threatening to leave large numbers of western Pennsylvania residents without health insurance coverage for services provided by the region's largest patient care services provider, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has taken an active role in the dispute, as noted on July 1 in a report in Health Business Daily, from AIS Health.

According to that report, "On June 2, Corbett’s office unveiled its 'Patients First' Leadership Team, and the governor said that the state’s insurance commissioner, Mike Consedine, and the secretary of the Department of Health, Michael Wolf, would meet with the two companies in order to 'facilitate discussions to make sure that Pennsylvanians in the western part of the Commonwealth have clarity about their health care' when the contract expires at the end of this year. He also said his staff had 'reached out' to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) with an invitation to join the discussions."

The report quoted Gov. Corbett as saying that “We must maintain a safety net among these two companies to minimize disruption and cost to consumers during any period of uncertainty and ensure that the companies are working toward resolution that puts the people of western Pennsylvania first."

As the report notes, "The feud is a longstanding one between the organizations. A dispute over the previous contract was resolved in May 2012, reportedly due to heavy political pressure, including from Corbett. Without that resolution — which saw the companies extending their contract through the end of 2014 — the disagreement over terms of provider reimbursement had threatened to leave Highmark members without access to UPMC’s network on June 30, 201. The two sides had committed to ongoing negotiations only for certain specialty services such as psychiatry and oncology."

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