PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is sending the UPMC-Highmark consent decrees case back to a lower court.
On Tuesday, the state Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 vote that “at this juncture, we do not deem it necessary to extend the termination date of the Consent Decrees through the extraordinary powers that OAG asks us to invoke.”
Instead, the case has been reversed and remanded to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court wrote in its ruling that “the Commonwealth Court is expressly authorized to conduct a hearing on the matter.”
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The consent decrees between UPMC and Highmark, which allow Highmark customers to continue to get UPMC medical services at in-network rates, are set to expire on June 30. Whether that will hold, or whether it will be extended, is now up to the discretion of the Commonwealth Court.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling, calling it a “crucial steps towards delivering justice for the people of Western Pennsylvania.” His full statement reads:
“Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court took a crucial step towards delivering justice for the people of Western Pennsylvania by agreeing with my Office’s argument and reversing Commonwealth Court’s decision that the end date of UPMC/Highmark’s consent decrees could not be modified as a matter of law. As directed by the Supreme Court, my Office will now make our case in Commonwealth Court on an expedited basis that modification of the end date is not just permitted-but necessary to ensure UPMC fulfills its role as a public charity and isn’t able to shun the very taxpayers whose tax dollars built their business.”
Highmark also released a statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling:
“Today’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court majority ruling says the Consent Decree governing the relationship between Highmark and UPMC can be modified beyond June 30, which is a critical step in preserving health care choice for consumers. In sending the case back to Commonwealth Court, the Supreme Court has expressly authorized the Commonwealth Court to promptly conduct a hearing to determine the scope and intent of the modification provision and the relief the Attorney General seeks through his proposed modified Consent Decree.”