Terror Alert Level

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Make Them Pay

Its time to end the UPMC/Highmark dispute.

UPMC's president told state legislators this morning his institution would never negotiate a new contract with Highmark, the region's largest provider of health insurance.

"This is not a negotiating ploy but rather an inevitable decision dictated by the realities of competition," Jeffrey Romoff told about two dozen House members gathered at the Allegheny County Courthouse.

The deal-breaker was Highmark's announced plan to take over the West Penn Allegheny Health System, he said. That plan would make Highmark a direct competitor with UPMC, he said.

UPMC claims to be a non-profit. But by invoking "direct competition," UPMC head honcho Romoff admitted that UPMC is in it for profit. They've been trying to put WestPenn/Allegheny out of business for years to complete their monopoly on health care in the Pittsburgh region, and when on the verge of attaining that goal, they cannot stand the fact that Highmark came to the rescue.

The solution is very, very simple. Revoke UPMC's tax-exempt status, and make them start paying on their profits and property. THAT will bring them to the table.

Problem solved.

UPDATE 8/28: I'd forgotton that UPMC has its own insurance plan. Apparently, its OK for a hospital system to offer insurance, but not OK for an insurance plan to operate a hospital. Or something.

There is also this telling tidbit from the P-G article:

If UPMC goes through with its divorce with Highmark, steering policyholders to its new allies (and patients to its own hospitals), it could theoretically break the Highmark hold on the Pittsburgh commercial market.

Then, after the deals with Aetna, Cigna and the like expire in a few years, UPMC hospital system could lock those insurers out of its network, too, leaving UPMC Health Plan as the only game in town with access to its own hospitals.

"Jeff has made no secret that he wants it all," the former UPMC official said, speaking of UPMC's Mr. Romoff.

Uh-oh, hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place.

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