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UPMC/University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Vice President & Chief Communications Officer, Public Relations
Telephone: 412-647-6647

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UPMC Media Relations

UPMC Seeks Dismissal of Highmark’s Baseless Lawsuit

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 18, 2011 – UPMC today filed a motion to dismiss in its entirety the meritless lawsuit filed by Highmark on July 13, 2011 attempting to stifle UPMC’s efforts to communicate to employers, physicians and patients concerning end-of-contract issues. A separate opposition to Highmark’s motion to enjoin UPMC’s communications regarding these issues also was filed.     

The public has the right to know now how the expiration of the contracts between UPMC and Highmark will affect them and the relationships with their UPMC physicians and UPMC hospitals. Highmark should not be able to gag UPMC, leaving Highmark as the lone public voice on end-of-contract issues – particularly when Highmark’s own communications are the ones misleading patients and the public. UPMC’s public communications have been accurate, ethically and socially responsible, and consistent with the provisions of the contracts.

Highmark’s lawsuit acknowledges that its current contracts with most UPMC hospitals expire on June 30, 2012. As today’s filings clearly establish, UPMC demonstrates with specific contractual language that physician services contracts are independent from hospital services contracts and can be terminated as of June 30, 2012 with no provisions for a one-year “run-out” period. 

Highmark’s decision to spend billions of dollars of their subscribers’ premiums to acquire the failing West Penn Allegheny Health System was the determinative cause of UPMC’s conclusion that it cannot subsidize Highmark’s ventures nor put its own business at risk by entering into contracts with a competing integrated health system. There will be no contract with Highmark – this is not a negotiating ploy. 

Today’s filings also provide details how Highmark rejected repeated UPMC requests to work together on jointly educating the public about the effects of the expiration of the current contracts. Instead, Highmark embarked on a misinformation campaign to mislead its members and the public, unconscionably urging them to do nothing until some unspecified time in the future.

Concurrently, UPMC entered into enhanced and expanded contracts with four national insurers – Aetna, CIGNA, HealthAmerica and United Healthcare – to confront the decades-old monopoly Highmark has had in the local health insurance market. This new-found competition is now sparing consumers and employers in western Pennsylvania Highmark’s annual ritual of double-digit increases in their health insurance premiums.

UPMC regrets Highmark’s unwillingness to work together on how to best unwind our relationship in an orderly and timely fashion to minimize uncertainty and confusion facing our patients.

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