Dermody seeks constitutional fix to health care crisis

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – As Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro pursues a legal remedy to the years-long struggle between UPMC and its customers who have Highmark insurance, House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody will seek a legislative solution.

Dermody is proposing a state constitutional amendment requiring tax-exempt hospital systems to accept reasonable reimbursement payments from uninsured patients and patients covered by other health insurance plans.

“Imagine riding in an ambulance with lights flashing and sirens blaring as your spouse or child is rushed to the nearest emergency room. Then imagine being handed a large bill because that hospital has its own health insurance plan and won’t accept your insurance,” Dermody said. “This is not hypothetical. It’s happening to people every day.

“We are lucky to have these world-class institutions in Pennsylvania and, with generous support from taxpayers, they provide some of the best care and treatment available anywhere in the world,” he said.

“It’s time to make sure tax-exempt hospital systems live up to their charitable missions, and that includes UPMC. These giants of health care provide life-saving care,” Dermody said, “and we are blessed to have them. But these entities must learn to get along with each other and put their patients first. For too long they have not.

“We need to make sure that nobody faces bankruptcy because an ambulance took them to the wrong hospital, and we have to preserve people’s access to care by their own doctors,” Dermody said.

Dermody is gathering more co-sponsors in the House before introducing his proposal to change the state constitution to protect people’s access to affordable health care.