PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s been a decade marked by bad blood and finger-pointing but suddenly the two health giants have made peace, heralding the good news of a this 11th hour agreement to provide healthcare access across the board.

“Oh it’s great news,” said Paul Wood, UPMC’s Vice President and Chief Communications Officer

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“Great news for our patients and great news for Western Pennsylvania.”

“This really is great news for the region,” said David Holmberg, Highmark president and CEO.

“It’s giving people power to make their own decisions.”

With talks that went on into the weekend, the two sides finally came to terms with UPMC agreeing to allow Highmark subscribers access to all of its facilities and physicians.

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UPMC’s Wood said the breakthrough came when Highmark agreed not to charge its subscribers more to use UPMC facilities.

WOOD: It puts the control in the hands of patients in terms of where they want to go and the doctors they want to see, and it’s at the same cost.
SHEEHAN: So it’s choice.
WOOD: It’s true consumer choice and that’s something we’ve advocated all along.

Holmberg credited Attorney General Josh Shapiro with brokering the deal, calling the negotiations tough, fair and productive. He said the agreement will allow the two healthcare providers to be allies rather than adversaries.

“The priority for the attorney general was to improve the quality of care,” Holmberg said.

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“So, we created certainly in the marketplace. That’s why the ten year agreement is so important. People can make choices for the long term. It also allows people to decide affordability is right for them and to choose what is best for them and their families,” he said.