Pittsburgh Business Group on Health pushing health care resolution

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The Pittsburgh Business Group on Health (PBGH) said today it is launching a campaign “aimed at expediting the discussion between Highmark and UPMC regarding their ongoing contract dispute.”

With less than seven months remaining on the contract that provides Highmark members with in-network access to UPMC physicians and facilities, “the unresolved dispute is expected to disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of employees and their families from PBGH employer-member companies,” the business group said in a release.

UPMC officials say they will not renew the contract now that Highmark has established its own provider network to compete with UPMC.

UPMC spokesman Paul Wood today reiterated that “UPMC looks forward to working with the Governor, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of Health and Attorney General on their collective goal of the best possible, patient-focused transition plan as the contracts expire at the end of this year.”

Highmark spokesman Leilyn Perri, meanwhile, said "Highmark appreciates the support of the business community and believes many business leaders share the same feelings as the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health."

He added: "Highmark will continue to work towards an agreement that benefits our customers and the entire community."

Key aims of the PBGH campaign, called “The Priority Initiative,” include requiring UPMC and Highmark to engage in face-to-face meetings to finalize and clarify details of what happens if there is no contract; corresponding directly with both Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic nominee Tom Wolf “to ensure employers’ concerns are represented”; and meeting with Pennsylvania Insurance Department and Department of Health officials to clarify the contract negotiations and what action they’re prepared to take.

Jessica Brooks, executive director of the coalition of local major employers, said in a statement that, “There needs to be a greater sense of urgency on the part of Highmark and UPMC to resolve outstanding issues and publish complete transitional plans so employers can make good, sensible decisions about their company’s health care plans.”

The insurance department has required that Highmark submit a post-contract transition plan by July 31, but Ms. Brooks said that is too late.

“Employer decisions are being made now, so it’s too important to wait for resolution or comprehensive work plans for transition of care.”

First Published June 9, 2014 9:17 AM

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