Lawmakers to hold hearing Monday on Community Blue insurance

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Democratic lawmakers are planning a Monday hearing on Highmark Inc.'s new Community Blue health insurance plan, examining "why Community Blue customers are losing access to" UPMC's network of hospitals and physicians.

Community Blue, a new group insurance product that launched Jan. 1, has the potential to cost 25 percent less than traditional, all-inclusive Highmark products, but it achieves those savings by keeping most UPMC facilities off of its list of "in-network" providers. Highmark says UPMC is a high-cost provider.

Last month, UPMC started dismissing Community Blue customers from UPMC practices and clinics, saying they could not receive care at UPMC, even if they wanted to go "out-of-network" or pay cash for a one-time office visit.

Highmark claims UPMC is locking out Community Blue customers for competitive reasons. UPMC claims that the nature of the contract between UPMC and Highmark prevents UPMC from seeing Community Blue customers except in special circumstances.

The hearing, planned by the House Democratic Policy Committee, is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Monday in the Allegheny County Courthouse's Gold Room, at 436 Grant St., Downtown.

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Bill Toland: or 412-263-2625.

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