Highmark Inc. officials told Pennsylvania Insurance Department officials today that the insurer "is a financially strong viable organization that will remain strong" after its proposed affiliation with the West Penn Allegheny Health System -- regardless of whether Highmark's contract with UPMC is extended beyond Dec. 31, 2014.
The filing was in response to a letter Deputy Insurance Commissioner Stephen J. Johnson sent Highmark last Friday asking for more information about the insurer's financial projections for its proposed affiliation with WPAHS and plans to build its own integrated health care delivery system to compete with UPMC.
Mr. Johnson wrote that previous Highmark filings assumed Highmark and UPMC would not extend their current contract beyond its Dec. 31, 2014 expiration.
"However, Highmark is actively seeking to have the Highmark/UPMC contract extended," he wrote in the letter.
A recent analysis by UPMC predicted that WPAHS could only see enough patients to survive financially if Highmark ended its relationship with UPMC and steered patients to WPAHS.
In order for the department to adequately assess the proposed partnership with West Penn Allegheny, Mr. Johnson said officials there needed additional information on the financial and other business implications for Highmark, WPAHS and the proposed parent company if the contract is extended or renewed.
In today's response, Highmark officials said a long-term contract with UPMC would not put the insurer or WPAHS in financial jeopardy and would be in the best interests of the community.
Steve Twedt: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1963.