UPMC withdraws false-ad lawsuit it filed against Highmark

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In a tentative de-escalation of the war of words between the region's biggest hospital system and dominant insurer, UPMC today withdrew a federal lawsuit accusing Highmark of false advertising.

UPMC's attorneys wrote in their notice of voluntary dismissal that they want to work with the Interagency Consumer Protection Task Force created by the state Insurance Department and Health Department. The task force last week criticized both of the nonprofit health-care titans for "lack of professionalism and judgment" in their advertising.

"UPMC continues to believe that Highmark's advertisements were and are false and misleading, but UPMC is committed to working within the process established by the Task Force to accomplish its objectives," according to the notice.

UPMC filed the lawsuit in August. It took aim, according to UPMC's attorneys, at Highmark ads "that incorrectly state that UPMC will 'deny access,' 'close its doors,' or otherwise not allow 'Highmark health insurance customers'" to use its facilities after 2014.

The dismissal is without prejudice, meaning UPMC could bring the accusations back to court later. The hospital system and insurer are still at odds in several other legal proceedings.

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Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord


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