July 2, 2013
Attorney General Kane Monitoring Continued Access to Altoona Regional Hospital after Affiliation
HARRISBURG- Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced today that she will not formally object to a proposed hospital merger in the Altoona area. However, Kane says her office will continue to monitor the transaction, in order to protect consumers and specifically to guarantee that the public has continued access to Altoona healthcare facilities.
"The public, in a sense, paid for the hospitals in the Altoona area through their charitable donations and the tax breaks those facilities received," said Kane. "If segments of the public were to be shut out from some hospitals, simply because big companies are in a battle for market share, that would be highly unfair."
There has been an ongoing dispute between UPMC and Highmark. Kane says that is very important in the Altoona merger because 60% of those in Blair County who have health insurance are Highmark subscribers.
The Office of Attorney General has clearly told UPMC it has every obligation to keep the Altoona facility accessible to all members of the public, without qualification.
Kane says charitable hospitals are community assets paid for by the public through donations, tax exemption subsidy and various government subsidies. Therefore, all residents should have access to these facilities regardless of their insurance carrier. If Highmark and UPMC cannot work out a contract for the Altoona Regional Health System, Kane says, she will consider all options to guarantee the public's access to its healthcare facilities.
"What needs to happen now is simple. These parties need to bargain with each other in good faith," said Kane. "The Office of Attorney General will be there to make sure no segment of the public gets shut out of a hospital they helped to build."
Kane asks that any Highmark subscriber denied treatment at UPMC Altoona contact her Health Care Section by calling 717.705.6938, or via email at email@example.com.
The Office of Attorney General's review was completed by the Antitrust Section and the Charitable Trusts & Organizations Section.