Highmark and UPMC might finally end litigation
After four years of contentious litigation, the Pennsylvania health plan Highmark and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) appear to be ending their antitrust dispute.
Both parties announced recently that they have agreed to have a federal judge dismiss both of their lawsuits, which started the fight in 2009. West Penn Allegheny Health System sued UPMC and Highmark and accused the leading insurer and health provider in the region of teaming up to stifle competition. Highmark then agreed to buy West Penn, and the insurer was dropped from the lawsuit.
An agreement was negotiated in May 2012 that would have ended the litigation, but weeks later UPMC sued Highmark and alleged the insurer was illegally thwarting the competition, including the UPMC Health Plan. The Pennsylvania governor’s office got involved in trying to mediate a settlement, to no avail.
The allegations continued to fly until recently when District Chief Judge Joy Flowers Conti, JD, had enough and ordered the attorneys for both sides to hammer out an agreement. Highmark and UPMC announced that they had agreed to dismiss their respective lawsuits and that Highmark’s in-network contract with UPMC will not extend beyond 2014.
Highmark’s attorneys noted that the "agreement in principle" is not final until approved by the West Penn board. When finalized, the pact means that Highmark customers will no longer have in-network access to most UPMC hospitals after 2014.