Frankel, legislators join in support of attorney general’s lawsuit against UPMC

Legal brief urges state high court to preserve patient choice by extending consent decrees

PITTSBURGH, April 25 – On Wednesday, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and 50 other members of the Pennsylvania Legislature filed a legal brief in support of the state attorney general’s lawsuit against UPMC. The lawsuit seeks to modify and indefinitely extend the UPMC-Highmark Health consent decrees that are set to expire June 30.

“Yesterday, I and my fellow members continued our efforts to protect people’s access to health care by joining the attorney general’s fight to extend the existing agreement between UPMC and Highmark. If this agreement is not extended, it could have terrible consequences for thousands of our neighbors, friends and family members, not just in the Pittsburgh region, but across Pennsylvania,” Frankel said.

“While health care is a business, it is more than numbers on an accountant’s spreadsheet. It is, at its core, about people. People with very real needs, very real concerns and very real fears. We must do everything we can to protect our fellow citizens, and to ensure that their needs and their access to lifesaving medicine are the priority – not profits.

“Further, as nonprofit charities that enjoy tax-exempt status among other benefits, it is our firm belief that UPMC and Highmark should live up to the responsibilities that status confers, namely that these regional assets remain available for the benefit of the entire community.”

Attorney General Josh Shapiro originally filed the lawsuit to modify the consent decrees in February, arguing that as a charitable organization, UPMC has an obligation to protect patients’ access to affordable care and to facilities that patients have funded through their own tax dollars.

In early April, Shapiro filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asking the court to either expedite review of the consent decrees before the June 30 expiration date or issue an order to keep the decrees in place during the pendency of the lawsuit.

The House Democratic Caucus’s amicus curiae brief provides additional support for the lawsuit.

Also Wednesday, a federal court judge dismissed a lawsuit UPMC had filed against the attorney general challenging his authority to modify the consent decrees.