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Lawmakers Speak Out On UPMC’s Anti-Bill Campaign

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Jon Delano Jon Delano
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PITTSBURGH (AP) – Two Pittsburgh-area lawmakers are speaking out about a direct mail and robocall campaign UPMC is waging against their bills that would require all large health systems in the state to accept insurance from any in-state company.

UPMC has most recently targeted the bill’s Republican co-sponsor, state Rep. Jim Christiana, though the hospital network in August also targeted state Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat, in August.

“To think that they’re siphoning off those dollars away from patient care, away from compensating their amazing doctors and nurses, to put campaign style literature in mailboxes I think is just terribly disappointing,” Christiana told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

Christiana, a Republican, and PA Rep. Dan Frankel, a Squirrel Hill Democrat, have introduced a bill that would require UPMC facilities to be open to Highmark customers beyond 2014.

“These integrated delivery networks — these hospitals — that are in the insurance game as well as providers should not be able to lock out patients, our constituents, because of the logo on their insurance card,” said Christiana.

UPMC defended their mailing, which they say is limited to Christiana’s district.

“Mailing to his constituents a flyer that informs them of his assault on UPMC is perfectly appropriate,” noted UPMC’s Paul Wood.

Wood says these legislators are carrying water for rival Highmark.

“We’re spending money to ensure that everybody understands our position and understands why what we are doing is best for the region,” added Wood.

But Christiana questioned whether a self-declared non-profit should engage in politics.

“I think the attorney general should definitely look into whether this is appropriate,” said the Beaver legislator.

The attorney general’s office won’t comment on any specific investigations, saying it takes complaints from everyone, including legislators.

Besides the mailing, UPMC said they also used robo-calls, or recorded telephone messages, into the region.

Next week, a state legislative committee will hold hearings on the Christiana-Frankel bill.

UPMC says the bill will go nowhere — Christiana disagrees.

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(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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