Judge weighs whether health care giants' deal has to expire
Cancer patient Judith Hays, left, stands with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, right, at a news conference announcing legal action in the dispute between health insurance providers UPMC and Highmark. (Keith Srakocic/AP)
(Harrisburg) — The looming end of a business relationship between Pittsburgh-based health care giants hangs in the balance during a hearing before a state judge.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson plans to issue a decision this week about whether a consent decree involving Highmark Health and UPMC can be extended past its June 30 termination date.
Its expiration will trigger higher costs for Highmark insurance customers who use UPMC’s network of providers.
A lawyer for the attorney general’s office, which wants the deal extended indefinitely, says it’s too late to change a provision that lets parties seek modification if it’s in the public interest.
But UPMC, which wants it to end, says the 2014 agreement was a five-year transition deal and nothing more.
The state Supreme Court will have the final say.