Gov. Tom Corbett has re-entered Western Pennsylvania’s battle over health care with an initiative that is appropriately named — Patients First.
He’s got the right idea. Focus on the needs and apprehensions of individuals has been sorely lacking in the fight between two regional giants, health care provider UPMC and health care insurer Highmark. Or as Mr. Corbett put it, “The fear mongering needs to stop.”
Although both nonprofits have abandoned their highly inflammatory advertising campaigns, they have not taken the next step toward fruitful dialog. That’s what the governor is demanding.
A team led by Insurance Commissioner Mike Consedine and Health Secretary Michael Wolf has been tasked with meeting with top officials from Highmark and UPMC.
The governor’s approach is a realistic one; he’s not suggesting these entities abandon their “business objectives,” as he put it. Instead, he wants assurances that a way of moving forward — whether with a new contract between the two or some other plan — be crafted so it does not hurt patients.
This is a tall order, and the participation of the state’s highest governmental official is crucial. Like all new ventures, of course, its value won’t be known until the end result is clear. The clock is ticking.