PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — UPMC CEO Jeffrey Romoff told a state house panel that UPMC will not renew its contract with rival Highmark and that decision is” not negotiable.”

During a hearing before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Insurance Committee today, Romoff said UPMC believes Highmark’s decision to acquire West Penn Allegheny could actually benefit the area.

“In recent years we have had a monopoly insurer, Highmark, and a single successful integrated medical system, UPMC,” Romoff told the committee.

“The competition among insurers will keep premiums as low as possible assuring substantial community and corporate savings,” Romoff added. The competition between UPMC and Highmark/West Penn Allegheny will foster development of better ways to keep people healthy.”

W. Thomas McGough, Jr., an attorney for UPMC, went on to add that while UPMC will continue to admit Highmark subscribers to its facilities, it will no longer do so at the reduced rate that they currently enjoy.

UPMC says it has no plans to negotiate with Highmark.

“Because Highmark has abandoned its neutrality as the region’s gatekeeper for healthcare, UPMC cannot and will not renew the contracts that allowed Highmark to maintain its dominance in this market,” Romoff said.

“UPMC will not renew its contracts with Highmark. This is not a negotiating ploy, but rather in inevitable decision dictated by the realities of competition.”

Highmark CEO Ken Melani says that decision is up to UPMC to negotiate and that Highmark’s doors are open.

Their last negotiation was last spring.

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