CEO: UPMC Will Not Renew Contract With Highmark

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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  • Daniel

    This is so typical a response from a glutten who’s main priority in life is to put the almighty dollar before human life. This is so evident with everything that UPMC does -just ask anyone paying the facility fee they place on their bills. Whatever happened to the hippocratic oath or should I say ‘hypocritic’ oath?! In reality, UPMC will not survive without Highmark.

  • Heather

    I’ll look for doctors that are still covered under Highmark.

  • Don

    UPMC wants to be another monopoly like Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic. Unfortunatelym the ones who will suffer most will be the patients. At least at the Highmark/West Penn facilities, we won’t be treated as merely numbers adding to the UPMC bottom line.

  • How Curious

    Very interesting that Mr. Romoff when a few years ago introduced their UPMC Health Plan with the tag line choose it as if your life depended on it and then he went out of state for a routine surgery!

    The problem is UPMC has more cash reserves than Highmark and can wait them out if you want to go to the ER you are only able to go to AGH and wait and wait and wait as shooting victims are treated long before chest pains. Most people I know wont go near AGH’s ER

  • EnoughAlready

    I thought non-profit organizations existed for the public good. You would never know that from UPMC or Highmark. This situation is going to have so many negative consequences for so many people it is inconceivable these two huge organizations are doing this to the people of this area. How can the leaders of UPMC and Highmark sleep at night? How many people will have to die or suffer horrible health consequences before this situation is rectified?

  • Robyn Wakefield Murphy

    There is no way that UPMC is really a “non-profit”. If they were they wouldn’t be so greedy as to reject the main insurer in the city in which they are the only widespread healthcare provider.

    • EnoughAlready

      Both UPMC and Highmark are evil when it comes to ignoring the effects of their actions on the wellbeing of the people who live in this area. Both are more interested in empire building that acting in the public interest. Highmark has done everything it can to keep other insurers out of this area. The result is insurance rates which are higher than they should be for employers and employees here. UPMC doesn’t want Highmark to own a health system but it is okay if they own a health insurance company. The leaders of both organizations should look up the word hypocrisy. Many people will suffer as a result of this situation and a few fatalities are very possible.

  • TheRealReasonIs?

    there is zero logical business reason why romoff will not renew with highmark but i would love to know the real personal reason why romoff will not renew with highmark………after seeing him on the news last night i am convinced it is personal. It is a shane the public is the one suffering from this. This man should be terminated from his position and someone put there whom is reasonable.

    • EnoughAlready

      Look up the name “John Paul”. He left UPMC abruptly but is now involved with Highmark. The fact is, these organizations are non-profits but they are not acting in the best interest of the public. The leaders of both UPMC and Highmark should be shown the door by their respective boards or the public should file a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against all of the board members.

  • Amie

    Wait Ronoff called Highmark a monopoly??? Pot call kettle black?
    UPMC cares about money and how much they can make…oh andimage…not quality patient care or treating their employees like human beings instead of indentured slave labor.

  • Dave

    I have a hard time understanding why UPMC is supposed to accept health insurance from a company who has positioned itself as a direct competitor. Like it or not, that’s called “free market” and that’s called “competition.” Compeition is usually a good thing for the consumer. If you currently have highmark, then tell your employer to start offering UPMC. If enough employees ask for it, your HR department is likely to start listening. The people of western PA are about to enter an era where they have two distinct choices in healthcare. The competitor who wins will be the one who can provide the lowest cost with the highest quality. Tell your employer you want them to offer the insurance that balances cost and quality. Unfortunately for Highmark, they don’t have the number of facilities to compete with UPMC. I think purely from a convenience standpoint UPMC is going to be the victor. If you don’t like that, then tell your employer to offer you better coverage.

    • EnoughAlready

      You are completely missing the point. UPMC and Highmark are non-profit organizations. There is no “victor” but there will be hundreds of thousands of losers. Those losers who will suffer are the innocent people living in the areas served by these organizations. A high percentage of the people in these area have Highmark insurance and get heath services from UPMC facilities and doctors. These people will be faced with changing doctors and facilities or paying higher out of pocket costs. At the same time UPMC doctors will be losing patients because their patients cannot afford the higher costs. What is will mean is a huge amount of disruption in the delivery of healthcare to hundreds of thousands of people. That will result in substandard care for some of them as the go to new doctors and facilities and the inevitable loss of records which will occur.

      Both organizations face substantial risk. Highmark customers will have less access to UPMC and UPMC will lose some access to the largest group of patients in its service areas. At the same time patients will suffer and a number of unnecessary fatalities are a very likely outcome. This is a LOSE, LOSE, LOSE situation for everyone while two evil organizations engage in ruthless empire building instead of acting for the public good like the non-profits they are.

  • bruceUSA

    Watch out now, take care beware of greedy leaders— they take you where you should not go…. (G.H.)

  • John

    UPMC is terrible. They worry about money. They complain about a monopoly. What are they. It was ok when they introduced their own health plan, but not ok when a heath plan is interested in hospitals!!

  • ken

    It is shame what UPMC and Highmark are doing to the patients that rely in UPMC. In regards to asking employers to switch insurances, may not be so easy, especially when corporate offices are out of State.

  • anonymous

    what happened to smail community hospitals with docs you pay frm your bank account?? I know it’s unreasonable anymore, I also know it won’t ever happen, but we didn’t seem to have these problems when that was the situation.. You went to local doc, who would trade services for a roof repair, he sent you to a local hospital, where local people worked for a fair wage in their local environment! Not likely to happen ever again, but wouldn’t it be a great idea?!

  • LIar Liar Pants on Fire

    Arrogant SOB – NOT for profit — can you say B S ? ? ? If UPMC paid their fair share in taxes, Pittsburgh wouldn’t be facing another state takeover and MAYBE we could balance a budget. How do I become a “not-for-profit”, because, believe me, after paying the bills, including outrageous insurance premiums — there is NO PROFIT! Think Uncle Sam will buy that one?

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