Pennsylvanians Mark 1-Year Since AG Shapiro Secured UPMC Highmark Deal

June 24, 2020 | Topic: Consumers

10-Year Agreement Between Healthcare Giants Impacts Approximately 1.9 Million Western PA Residents

HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro today marked the one year anniversary of the landmark agreement between Highmark and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The agreement, which was announced June 24, 2019, ensures that Pennsylvanians with Highmark health insurance can receive treatment from UPMC facilities for the next decade and vice versa.

“Without this agreement, nearly 1.9 million Western Pennsylvanians would have lost their access to care from their doctors,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Thanks to the patients who came forward and shared their stories we turned the table and secured a 10-year agreement that puts the people of Western Pennsylvania first. I’ve heard from so many people who’ve been able to keep their doctor and their care team, which is even more meaningful during the public health emergency.”

“That agreement literally saved my husband’s life,” said Lara Larson of Warren, Pennsylvania. “If this agreement hadn’t happened, he wouldn’t be here. In the year since, our experience has been fantastic. My husband is seeing the doctors who know him and know his history. Alleviating this has been tremendous, and this consent decree has enabled me to access the resources and staff my husband needs for his care.”

“As a resident of the City of Pittsburgh, the impending Highmark and UPMC split in 2019 felt like an appalling obstacle to trusted and accessible healthcare. It would have left me without access to nearby hospitals and, more importantly, prevented me from continuing care with all of my physicians and physical therapist practice,” said Heidi Wettlaufer of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “To my surprise and great appreciation, I learned that, while I was visiting my doctor for what we both thought was our last visit together in June 2019, an agreement was reached. What began as a doctor visit with a sad parting turned into a celebratory visit that allowed me to discuss my health. I am sincerely grateful for Attorney General Shapiro’s work to support this agreement, which places patient care, not corporate interests, at the heart of healthcare. I can’t imagine, in this COVID-19 time, that this agreement is anything but the best for patients, their healthcare teams, and the community.”

“A year ago, Attorney General Shapiro forced UPMC to meet its obligations as a purely public charity,” said Matt Yarnell, President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. “As a result, hundreds of thousands of seniors and cancer patients continue to enjoy access to the hospitals we all subsidize. There’s much more to be done to ensure accountability for patients and caregivers, but today we say congratulations to everyone who signed a petition, filed a complaint, protested to the Board of Directors, and spoke out in the belief that by standing together, we can put people over profits.”

Attorney General Shapiro worked with UPMC and Highmark for two years to resolve the issue posed by the expiring consent decrees and to prevent further harm to the public. When negotiations failed to yield a result, Attorney General Shapiro filed a petition in February 2019 against UPMC to modify the consent decrees. Before the Commonwealth Court ruled on June 14, 2019 that the state could not modify those agreements, Attorney General Shapiro had already entered into rigorous negotiations with the leadership of UPMC and Highmark to reach this agreement.

“As Attorney General, I swore an oath of office to protect the rights of all Pennsylvanians,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “That means putting people before powerful institutions, and holding powerful institutions accountable to the people they serve. My Office will continue working tirelessly on behalf of all Pennsylvanians.

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