Highmark and UPMC are three months from their historic separation, yet disagreement and confusion still reign over how patients will be treated after Jan. 1.
We know the stakes are high for the region’s top health insurer and top hospital network, but those with the biggest stake are people who need to maintain their health care.
This bewildering situation persists four months after Gov. Tom Corbett created his “Patients First” leadership team to put an end to the uncertainty. It comes three months after he and Attorney General Kathleen Kane, with Highmark and UPMC executives, issued a consent decree that supposedly settled the differences. And it comes three weeks after the Insurance Department released the details that were to spell out, once and for all, which UPMC treatments, facilities and physicians will be in-network versus out-of-network for Highmark customers.
The Post-Gazette’s Steve Twedt reported Wednesday that the war of words between the health care giants rages to this day. UPMC claims Highmark is exaggerating the access its customers will have, while Highmark says UPMC is sowing doubt in the minds of Highmark clients about their level of coverage.
Even the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health is bewildered. “Employers continue to be left in limbo, not really knowing if the recommendations they are receiving from their brokers are in their best interests,” said executive director Jessica Brooks. It’s no way to treat your neighbors.
If UPMC and Highmark can’t deal straight with each other on behalf of the public, then the public officials who vowed to hold them accountable must step in again. Mr. Corbett and Ms. Kane need to use the power of their offices to force the competitors to agree on what is covered and what is not, who pays and who doesn’t.
No one should be allowed to play on patients’ fears, especially the companies involved in their care.