PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some say that a deal would make health care in the Pittsburgh area more competitive and lead to better patient care.

The two sides will be in court tomorrow, where a judge will try to decide if Highmark can legally stop the West Penn Allegheny Health System from looking for other companies to team up with.

Highmark’s failed acquisition of the West Penn Allegheny Health System has been a hot-button issue since the beginning.

The hospital group backed out of a $475 million takeover by Highmark, claiming the company breached parts of the agreement.

West Penn wants to look for support elsewhere, but Highmark says, it can’t.

Patients and workers say they’re tired of the arguing and want the two sides to come together for the good of the community.

“While you’re able, back to the table,” protestors said outside the Highmark Building downtown. “Back to the table, while you’re able.”

They had signs and even a bargaining table.

People from Bloomfield want to see Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Health System work out their differences.

“We’re hoping to appeal to their sensibilities, to their sense of morality to get back to the table,” President of the Bloomfield Citizens Council Janice Cercone Scullion said. “It’s in everybody’s best interest, including theirs.”

Dozens of people gathered on the North Shore in front of West Penn’s headquarters today.

They crossed the Roberto Clemente Bridge and continued their protest in front of the Highmark Building downtown.
“We’re calling on both parties — the chairman of the board and the CEOs of both institutions — of West Penn Allegheny Health System and Highmark to get out of the court room and get back to the negotiating table,” Pennsylvania Senator Jim Ferlo said.

Ferlo is just one of the officials calling for the two sides to work it out.

“We’re very worried that we’ll have protracted a legal battle,” Ferlo said. “And that’s not in the best interest of our communities, it’s not in the best interest of health care workers, it’s not in the best interest of the needed health care services that are so vital to the communities where these facilities are located.”

“This is a betrayal of the entire city, and of Bloomfield, because if west Penn hospital goes dark, so does Bloomfield,” Scullion said. “We are not going to let up. We will continue this fight until the problem is resolved.”

In a statement, Highmark says they “remain firmly committed to an affiliation between Highmark and WPAHS.”

The two sides will be in court Thursday to try to hash it out.

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