HARRISBURG - Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) said he is pleased with today’s announcement of a long-term resolution between UPMC and Highmark that means Highmark members will have in-network access to UPMC doctors and hospitals. He hopes that, while providing for quality health care for citizens, this approach will continue to foster competitive insurance rates.
“With the June 30 consent decree expiration fast approaching, we were preparing legislation to address concerns with access to care at Children’s Hospital, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital,” Turzai said. “We are glad that UPMC and Highmark reached a solution that did not require another round of legislative intervention.”
Turzai and House Republicans have been involved in the UPMC-Highmark issue since 2011. As majority leader, Turzai organized hearings in Pittsburgh and Erie to solicit input on the impact of the dispute between these integrated health care organizations.
House Bill 2052 of 2011 was a direct response to the findings of those hearings. The bill would have provided for binding arbitration between a Blue Cross insurer, like Highmark, and a health care provider, like UPMC, where the public interest required it. The bill received rapid consideration and eventual passage by the House, with a bipartisan vote of 186-6. Within weeks of passage of the bill, UPMC and Highmark signed the negotiated settlement extending the consent decree through June 30, 2019.
“After the mediated agreement of 2012 and the consent decree signing in 2014, our Republican House members continued to meet with patients, health care providers, health insurers and government leaders to seek a sustainable outcome of the separation process as UPMC and Highmark approached the June 30, 2019, consent decree expiration date, “Turzai said.
Turzai said recent encouraging news that UPMC agreed to provide to Highmark cardholders in-network access to Hillman Cancer Center led him and other House Republican members to reach out to leadership in both organizations to encourage them to resolve more than just the oncology issue before the consent decree expired.
“Our approach, as always, was not rooted in making splashy headlines, but was focused on substantive solutions that would make sure patients had access to quality health care, and that competition would still encourage competitive reasonable insurance rates,” Turzai said.
The Pittsburgh region now has the second-lowest health care costs among the 30 largest metropolitan areas, while the world-class care provided has dramatically improved over the past two decades.
“We have always contended that the competition between UPMC and Highmark/Allegheny Health Network has brought our region improvements in health care quality, as well as reduced health insurance costs. My hope is that today’s agreement will maintain these benefits while ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have access to the life-saving care they need,” Turzai said.
Representative Mike Turzai
Speaker of the House
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Christine Goldbeck
717.787.7977 (office) 570.205.0736 (cell)