The state should intervene in health care rift

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The Post-Gazette editorial "War of the Airwaves: Health Care Giants Need to Tell the Whole Story" (Aug. 8) accurately portrayed the sentiments of most southwestern Pennsylvania citizens.

The failure of Highmark and UPMC to agree on a contract between the region's largest health care insurer and the largest health care provider could result in the inability of thousands of southwestern Pennsylvania families to have access to the health care facilities and doctors of their choice. Rather than negotiate, these nonprofit combatants have chosen to engage in an advertising war that is often misleading and serves no one other than the local media outlets.

The apparent reason for the adversarial position taken by UPMC is Highmark's decision to acquire a health care provider network to complement its health insurance business. UPMC's opposition to Highmark's acquisition is difficult to understand given the fact that in the 1990s, UPMC started a health insurance company (UPMC Health Plan) to complement its health provider network. Evidently, UPMC does not agree that "What is good for the goose is good for the gander."

Since the Insurance Department of our commonwealth approved Highmark's entry into the health provider market and also approved UPMC's entry into the health insurance business, perhaps the state should now intervene to ensure that its approval of these ventures does not result in the denial of use of nonprofit, community assets -- assets which, by the way, were created through the contributions and patronage of the citizens of our region and greatly aided through the tax-exempt status granted to both institutions by the state.

JIM RODDEY
Oakmont

The writer is a former chief executive of Allegheny County.


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