PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is more pressure for UPMC and Highmark to end their contract dispute.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is pushing through legislation that could eventually force the two groups into binding arbitration, but the clock is ticking.

The announcement today was really more of a deadline extension than any agreement between UPMC and Highmark.

The company’s jointly announced that Highmark subscribers will have in-network access to UPMC hospitals and doctors through June 30, 2013, an extension of one full year.

Members of the State House of Representatives today pushed support for House Bill 2052, which passed by a 186-6 vote last week in Harrisburg. Now, they want their Senate counterparts to pass it.

“This can happen when someone has so much control. And what do you have? I could have all the insurance in the world, if I don’t have a hospital and a doctor to go to, what does it all mean?” said Pa. Rep. Randy Vulakovich, of Shaler. “That in essence is the reason behind 2052.”

This morning, Highmark released a statement saying the company “will continue to work toward achieving a long-term contract with UPMC that guarantees our members affordable access to all UPMC hospitals and physicians and preserves provider choice.”

If House Bill 2052 is passed by the Senate, the two sides would be required to talk, and if they fail to reach an agreement, binding arbitration could be used to settle the matter for them.

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