UPMC asks for dismissal of Higmark suit

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The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has filed a motion seeking to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Highmark that alleges UPMC has been misleading Highmark subscribers through advertising and other communications into thinking they were about to lose network access to UPMC doctors and hospitals.

"Highmark should not be able to gag UPMC, leaving Highmark as the lone public voice on end-of-contract issues -- particularly when Highmark's own communications are the ones misleading patients and the public," said UPMC spokesman Paul Wood in a release.

"UPMC's public communications have been accurate, ethically and socially responsible, and consistent with the provisions of the contracts."

Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein said the insurer would review the U.S. District Court filing, and that meanwhile, "we continue to urge UPMC to cease the delaying tactics and get back to the table to negotiate a new agreement with Highmark, which is what the community clearly wants."

The Highmark-UPMC contract expires in July, with a one-year run-out period to follow. The sides disagree about whether access to UPMC physicians will also be covered during the run-out period.

UPMC has said it wouldn't renew the pact because Highmark aims to acquire West Penn Allegheny Health System and compete in the local provider market.

Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com.


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