PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – You know the commercials by now. The UPMC vs. Highmark ads are reminiscent of political ads. Some ads are ending by urging people to call their legislatures and urge them to vote for a set of bills. What bill are they talking about?
KDKA’s Larry Richert and John Shumway got to the bottom of it with State Sen. Jay Costa.
The proposed bills would force UPMC to contract with Highmark. Sen. Costa says “these two healthcare delivery networks, UPMC and now Highmark/Allegheny Health Network, it would apply to them and would require that the insurance side contract with the hospital provider and vice versa.”
He says that isn’t currently the case and that UPMC has “refused to enter into an ongoing contract beyond 2014 with the Allegheny Health Network.’
Sen. Costa says the bill would force the two parties to “enter into a contract with each other .”
Paul Wood with UPMC called in to respond to Sen. Costa. He says the legislation is unprecedented.
“The key point is not a single state in the Union has enacted any sort of this kind of legislation,” Wood said.
He calls the proposed bill “anti-competitive” and “regressive.” Wood claims it would put the state in charge of pricing.
“I don’t think anybody wants the state involved in our health care,” Wood said.
He also says that support for the legislation is slim. “There isn’t a single hospital. There’s not a single insurer in the state of Pennsylvania that supports this legislation, other than of course Highmark<” Wood said.
Sen. Costa admits the bills are facing strong opposition but that it will “stimulate conversation what role we need to play at the state level.”
He adds the fundamental question is, “should the state in these instances step to the plate and do something? And I think time will tell.”