“I have created the ‘Patients First’ Leadership Team and have directed my Insurance Commissioner Mike Consedine and Department of Health Secretary Michael Wolf to meet with Highmark and UPMC senior management and facilitate discussions to make sure that Pennsylvanians in the western part of the Commonwealth have clarity about their health care come January 1, 2015, and in the years to come.
“The continuing contractual dispute between Highmark and UPMC is entering a critical phase, with the contract between the parties set to expire at the end of this year.
“Current Highmark policyholders who use UPMC doctors and physicians have increasing concerns about access to care, which need to be addressed as soon as possible. The companies must work together and develop a plan to ensure ongoing and affordable access to key medical facilities, providers, and unique or specialized medical services.
“No patient in the midst of treatment should be told he or she needs to find a new doctor, nor should anyone need to travel outside the area because their local community hospital is no longer an option.
“We’ve all been in situations where we or our family members are in need of health care. During those times, we want our attention on the care and recovery of our loved one, not on the business.
“We must maintain a safety net among these two companies to minimize disruption and cost to consumers during any period of uncertainty and ensure that the companies are working toward resolution that puts the people of western Pennsylvania first.
“My staff has also reached out to Attorney General Kane and her office to join us in these discussions, as I believe they share our commitment to ensuring that Pennsylvanians do not become collateral damage in the dispute between these two non-profits and that we have a stable and competitive marketplace in the years to come.
“I am calling upon the boards and senior management of both companies to put their differences aside, come together in good faith, and put together a plan that puts patients and consumers first.
“The leadership team will immediately begin meeting with senior management from both UPMC and Highmark this week. I also expect to meet personally in the near future with the boards of both companies to communicate our goals.
“I expect that the parties will not negotiate through combative public displays that only serve to add to existing consumer confusion and fright. The fear-mongering needs to stop.
“The time has come for leaders from both sides to get together around a table and figure out a reasonable plan.
“We know the stakes are high for both sides, and I am not asking, nor do I expect, the companies to abandon their business objectives. I do expect both companies to dedicate their energies toward putting their patients first.”
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