UPMC is trying to panic us into switching insurers

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What a great smokescreen! UPMC board chair G. Nicholas Beckwith III would have us all believe that Highmark wants to steal UPMC's customers ("Choice and Competition: UPMC Can't Enter Into a Damaging Contract With Highmark," June 17 Perspectives). Really?

Is it not true that UPMC is pushing to become the only game in town by eliminating the competition from other hospitals? Why else would it close hospitals in some of the communities east of Pittsburgh but open a brand new facility in Monroeville to compete against Forbes Regional (a West Penn Allegheny Health System subsidiary)?

Who is UPMC threatening? Highmark? WPAHS? No. It is attempting to intimidate and bully us. It is trying to panic people into switching their HMO health plans and be captive to UPMC's doctors and hospitals. But we all will suffer if UPMC does not renew its contract with Highmark and possibly forces WPAHS and/or Highmark out of business. People will be forced to make a choice: change health providers or change health insurance companies. Although with my particular Medicare supplement plan I can go to any provider without regard to network, I am concerned that health care costs and then subsequently health insurance costs will rise substantially. My doctors have been put on notice that I will change to doctors who have privileges at WPAHS and UPMC.

Since this current agreement was made, Gov. Tom Corbett and several Western Pennsylvania legislators stated emphatically that if a new contract couldn't be negotiated, the state would take appropriate steps to ensure that there is no divorce. I would recommend for re-election purposes that a new contract between Highmark and UPMC is signed and in place prior to Nov. 1, 2014.

ALAN LICHTENSTEIN
Wilkins


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