Highmark, WPAHS hold talks
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Senior leaders from Highmark Inc. and the West Penn Allegheny Health System held "a very productive session" on Monday "that focused on efforts the parties could take to address the financial condition of WPAHS to secure approval of their affiliation agreement by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department," said Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein in a press release.
Participants included Highmark President and CEO William Winkenwerder Jr. and West Penn Allegheny Board Chairman Jack Isherwood.
The statement said both parties "realize there are significant issues that must be addressed and that prompt action is essential."
Highmark and West Penn Allegheny have been negotiating an affiliation for more than a year, but the partnership was nearly derailed after WPAHS officials objected to what they called pressure from Highmark to file for bankruptcy to get out from under the health system's near-$1 billion debt obligations.
West Penn Allegheny board members wanted to talk to other possible capital partners but Highmark successfully blocked that move last week in a suit filed in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas.
Monday's statement noted that Highmark and WPAHS officials had recently met with WPAHS bondholders, presumably to discuss a restructuring of West Penn Allegheny's bond debt, and that "further meetings are planned."
The region's largest insurer and its second largest health system also said they plan to focus on physician recruitment and retention at WPAHS, and on "improving ongoing communications and coordinated actions prior to any regulatory approval."
First Published November 13, 2012 12:00 am