PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — UPMC and Highmark have agreed to another extension on a contract that will keep the groups’ hospitals and doctors in the insurance network through the end of 2014.

Gov. Tom Corbett held a news conference in Harrisburg this afternoon to announce the agreement.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, “the agreement will provide in-network access to all UPMC hospitals and physicians for Highmark Commercial and Medicare Advantage members.”

The agreement extends the current contract by 32 months.

In the press release, Gov. Corbett said: “Both UPMC and Highmark worked diligently toward this amicable resolution for the benefit of UPMC patients, Highmark subscribers and the millions of citizens impacted by the uncertainty of their dispute. I, along with the citizens of western Pennsylvania, am pleased with this outcome.”

The dispute over in-network coverage began when Highmark announced a $475 million takeover of the six-hospital West Penn Allegheny Health System last June.

UPMC said that made Highmark a direct competitor to its system of about 20 hospitals.

Under pressure from state lawmakers and the Corbett administration, the groups had previously agreed to a one-year contract extension that expires June 30, 2013.

The companies say the additional extension gives them time for patients to make arrangements regarding their care.

In a statement, Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa said in part: “The extension of the contract between Highmark and UPMC is good news and it’s the right thing to do for all health care consumers in the Western Pennsylvania. Many people have worked on this issue and worked toward this agreement. It is good to know that these efforts were not in vain.

“For too long there have been too many questions and too much apprehension about where consumers would be able to turn for life-saving health care if this issue were not resolved. Individuals, businesses, workers, seniors and so many others who are impacted can now be assured of access to high quality, low-cost health care for the near future.

“By agreeing to provide access to health care facilities until 2015, the insurance and health care markets in Pittsburgh will have increased stability in a time of market adjustment. This access period will allow time to negotiate an even longer agreement that benefits all health care consumers in the Pittsburgh area.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl also released a statement.

It reads in part: “I want to thank Highmark and UPMC for getting back to the table for the betterment of the Pittsburgh community. This agreement is great news for all Pittsburgh residents and businesses who have been deeply worried about how this situation could affect their ability to maintain affordable, quality health care. This agreement will give all of Pittsburgh the peace of mind we need.”

More Highmark News
More UPMC News

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Watch & Listen LIVE