Frankel: UPMC must restore public’s trust; legislature must prevent future health care impasse

PITTSBURGH, June 24 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, and the Democratic Chair of the House Health Committee, issued the following statement today regarding the new 10-year agreement between UPMC and Highmark:

“I'm relieved that Pennsylvanians no longer have to worry about their health care being upended at the end of this month. I’ve been proud to stand alongside of our residents, many of whom are quite ill, and call for UPMC to comply with the standards of a purely public charity worthy of the tax exemptions, philanthropic dollars, and state support that helps build its facilities.

“Attorney General Shapiro did an extraordinary job bringing these organizations together and facilitating a long-term solution that puts the public first.

“Now that our patients are out of immediate danger and able to focus on their health and healing, UPMC can start the hard work of restoring trust with the public they serve, and the legislature can ensure that we never find ourselves in this mess again.

“If UPMC is serious about restoring the confidence of our communities, it must prove that the organization’s moral compass points in the direction of the public good – proving they care about patients and community, not just profits. Otherwise, they should bring in new leadership who can rebuild confidence in the institution’s ability to respect its own workers, put patient care first, and ensure that the benefits they offer belong to our whole community.

“And, as we celebrate UPMC’s decision not to hold patients hostage to force an outcome that suits them, I again call on my colleagues to support my legislation to put some regulations in place so that hospital-insurance companies who get tax benefits like charities are also required to behave like charities.

“Nonprofit charities that have the ability to pay their executives millions each year cannot simply be trusted to act in the public good.

“We cannot have this commonwealth’s families fearfully holding their breath every time a contract is up for negotiation.”