The Jan. 18 article “State Senate Bill Takes Shot at UPMC-Highmark Dispute” by Kate Giammarise discusses a bill that will be introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate that would require hospitals to contract with any willing insurer. Those who support the bill see it as a way to force UPMC and Highmark to play nice and sign a new contract, but they do not address what I consider the most important aspect of the bill: Does it require hospitals to negotiate in good faith with insurers?
If no requirement is established in the law, what is to prevent UPMC from negotiating rates so high with Highmark that Highmark would no longer be willing to contract? Without this requirement, the law is all style and no substance. If a good-faith negotiation requirement is part of the bill, it will provide teeth to the law and actually force these two to sit down and negotiate a new deal.
The writer is a student in the health law program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.