Gov. Tom Corbett is calling on UPMC and Highmark to put their patients first.
The contract between UPMC and Highmark is set to expire by December 31st, 2014.
UPMC said that it does not intend to extend the contract, which means that Highmark patients will not receive in-network rates for UPMC services.
“The time has come for the leaders of Highmark and UPMC to get together around a table and develop a plan,” Corbett said. “That’s why I am launching the new ‘Patent’s First’ leadership team to ensure that consumers have clarity about their care come January 1, 2015 and in the years that follow that.”
Corbett said he is sending Insurance Commissioner Mike Consedine and Department of Health Secretary Michael Wolf to meet with the two companies to facilitate a discussion starting this week.
He said he does not expect companies to abandon their business objectives, but he does expect them to do what is best for their patients.
“I would expect the boards and senior management at both companies to put their differences aside, come together in good faith and put together a plan that places patients and consumers first,” Corbett said.
Corbett said that no patient should be told that they need to find a new doctor or that they have to travel outside of their area because their local community hospital is no longer and option.
“I also expect that the parties will not negotiate through combative public displays to include the commercials that only serve to add to the existing consumer confusion and fright,” Corbett said. “The fear-mongering needs to stop, we must remember this is about healthcare and doing what is in the best interest for patients.”
The Pennsylvania Medical Society said this is a step in the right direction.
In a written statement, Michael Fraser, executive vice president and CEO, said having the governor step in is encouraging.
“What has been lost in a lot of the UPMC-Highmark contract dispute is that patients want to know where to go for care and who they can see to provide it” Fraser said. “What our physician members care the most about is that patients do not become collateral damage in the dispute and that the care they receive is not disrupted.”