Frankel: Much remains to be done in UPMC situation

Calls for legislature to pass bills to ensure patient access to health care

PITTSBURGH, June 7 – Today state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, the Democratic chair of the House Health Committee, issued the following statement in relation to the ongoing negotiations between UPMC and Highmark, and the pending expiration of the current consent decree.

“With the deadline of the Supreme Court decision upon us, I’m delighted that UPMC is acknowledging that their predatory and ‘uncharitable’ positions are contrary to the public good and are inching back from the cliff from which they’ve wanted us all to jump.

“It sounds like they’re starting to get it. Nevertheless, much remains to be done to ensure that all our neighbors have access to all providers and facilities, and to ensure that all healthcare systems are held to high statutory standards that give them the benefits of a nonprofit charity in our state.

“Meanwhile, patients in Pennsylvania remain in limbo, unsure of what the rules will be a month from now. This situation is cruel and frankly unhealthy, and it’s no way to treat people who are doing their best to make plans for their health and their financial future. It remains as urgent as ever for the court to extend the consent decree until a clear resolution has been presented to the public.

“I’m gratified to see Speaker Mike Turzai come out in support of something I’ve long said, particularly when it comes to specialty hospitals: Everyone deserves access.

“It’s time for us to enact legislation to block this behavior entirely, by ensuring that hospitals that own insurance companies can’t use patient care, patient illnesses and patient fears to demand patients buy their own insurance product.”