My office has fielded a number of calls and emails from people with serious concerns and questions regarding the current conflict between Highmark, Inc. (Highmark) and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Many are worried about where they will turn for health coverage and care if Highmark and UPMC do not reach an agreement.
Highmark is the dominant health insurance provider in Allegheny County and UPMC is the dominant health care provider. If the two do not come to an agreement, it could be disastrous for health care consumers and employers in our region. Patients’ access to healthcare should not be the rope in this tug of war.
As a core value, I believe everyone has the right of access to high-quality, affordable healthcare. Under PA Act 55 of 1997, both Highmark and UPMC are recognized as Institutions of Purely Public Charity, e.g. nonprofits. Their behavior is hardly charitable towards the needs of our citizens, and public officials are taking steps to hold them accountable.
I will be convening a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, September 8th at 7 p.m. at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall Ballroom. This forum will be open to community members and stakeholders who want to express their concerns and take action. Additionally the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee will convene a public hearing regarding this matter on September 13th at Penn State McKeesport, and the House Insurance Committee will convene a similar hearing on August 25th at the Allegheny County Courthouse.
Our office will be posting on future meetings and updates at http://upmcvshighmark.blogspot.com and on my website. Please visit www.senatorferlo.com or call my office at 412-621-3006 to learn more about this or any other state-related issues.