West Penn Allegheny Health System

In Pennsylvania, newborns are screened for more than 40 conditions, but only six of these screenings are mandatory according to Dr. Robert Cicco, the associate director of the neonatal intensive care unit at West Penn Hospital.

However, a new law will add a seventh condition to that list, requiring hospitals to screen babies for severe heart disease using a pulse oximetry test.

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say the West Penn Allegheny Health System has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to settle claims that it violated the law by offering doctors below-market rents so the physicians would refer patients to the network's hospitals.

A spokesman for West Penn says the settlement grew out of a self-audit and voluntary report made to federal officials, which was confirmed by U.S. Attorney David Hickton, who announced the settlement. The allegedly illegal activity began in the mid-2000s, with most of it occurring between 2008 and 2012.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 715,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. 

The Allegheny Health Network hopes to help these people with its new “First Contact-to-Balloon” initiative.

“First Contact-to-Balloon,” refers to the time when a patient first calls for a paramedic to when their blocked blood vessel is actually opened.

The initiative will enable Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers to diagnose patients from the field and then alert hospital cardiac catheterization teams to prepare for their arrival.

West Penn Allegheny hospitals laid off 262 employees Friday, and another 200 vacant positions are being eliminated.

“This action is extremely difficult but is an essential step in our efforts to right-size the organization for the patient volume that we currently have and to strongly position it for future growth and success as a leading healthcare provider in this region,” said Dan Laurent, a spokesman for Highmark’s Allegheny Health Network.

West Penn Allegheny will now have 10,300 employees and the Allegheny Health Network as a whole, 17,000.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Highmark Inc. has finalized its partnership with a long list of healthcare providers including the West Penn Allegheny Health System. Now that the Pennsylvania Insurance Department has approved the deal, what happens on Dec. 31, 2014 when the UPMC-Highmark contract expires? Diane Denis, Katz Alumni Chair in Finance and Pitt Professor of Business Administration, dissects the deal.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Just moments after the Pennsylvania Insurance Department gave its approval to the deal, Highmark Inc. finalized its partnership with a long list of healthcare providers, including the West Penn Allegheny Health System, Jefferson Regional Medical Center and a group of West Penn physicians that will be known as the Allegheny Clinic.

The deal was more than two years in the making, and Highmark Board Chairman Bob Baum said it shows all of those involved have the will and the determination to build the new integrated delivery system, dubbed the Allegheny Health Network.

The deal to merge Highmark and the West Penn Allegheny Health System has cleared another hurdle, but with a few warnings.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has given approval to the transactional filing that would bring together the nonprofit organizations and create an "integrated delivery network."