Don't believe UPMC's claims about access

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Concerning "Health Care Ad Battle Intensifies" (Aug. 6): UPMC is totally out of bounds with comments that it wishes to keep its facilities and practitioners available for the entire community. This is an unequivocally false statement.

The fact is, the UPMC administration enforces a policy that forbids any Highmark Community Blue PPO participant from seeing any UPMC medical practitioner or from using any UPMC facility, period. Not only does UPMC overtly and prejudiciously prohibit Community Blue patients from seeing UPMC doctors, it even refuses to see this group when they are willing to pay full, non-negotiated fees in cash before service is rendered. I know this to be true after having been turned away from seeing UPMC surgeons on three separate occasions because I have CB PPO, and even thereafter when I requested to be seen as a "non-insured" cash-only patient, I was refused care. What is particularly galling is that I, on occasion, volunteer to teach UPMC students.

I appreciate corporate competition, but UPMC is blatantly lying when its officials state that Highmark's customers still will have out-of-network access to UPMC hospitals. This is an overt lie, and UPMC is denying access to care to a large cadre of Western Pennsylvanians.

ROBERT BALL, M.D.
Squirrel Hill

The writer is professor of urology at George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, D.C.


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