Top Pa. officials blast Highmark, UPMC over insurance fight

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Highmark and UPMC are demonstrating a "lack of professionalism and judgment" in going to war in TV and radio ads, and appear to be trying to scare customers, according to a letter sent to the CEOs of both companies by two top state officials.

The letter was issued by state Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine and state Secretary of Health Michael Wolf, addressed to Highmark CEO William Winkenwerder Jr. and UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff, as well as legal officials from the two health titans.

The Insurance Department and the Health Department make up Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's Interagency Consumer Protection Task Force, created last month specifically to deal with the ugly contracting and public relations battle between Pittsburgh's largest insurer and its largest hospital network.

"The advertisements appear to be intended to drive consumers to choose their health insurance and health provider based on fear," the letter says.

The letter, dated Thursday, also said the task force has discussed the ad campaigns with both organizations in the past two weeks, and asked Highmark and UPMC to again clarify how the two organizations will cooperate when it comes to access for Medicare and Medicare "Advantage" plan customers.

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Bill Toland: btoland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2625.


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