Merski supports attorney general’s lawsuit against UPMC

Suit seeks to extend, modify UPMC-Highmark consent decree

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement today in response to news that state Attorney General Josh Shapiro is suing UPMC seeking to modify and indefinitely extend the UPMC-Highmark Health consent decree set to expire June 30.

“I support the attorney general’s lawsuit wholeheartedly,” Merski said. “The end of the UPMC-Highmark relationship stands to affect our entire community, and those hardest hit will be low-income working families, children and seniors, who will lose access to the lower-priced, in-network care that is so critically important.   

“This isn’t just an access issue – it’s a matter of preserving residents’ rights to their own health care choices and enabling them to continue with the care that’s best for them. Nowhere is choice more important than in the health care field, where it most affects quality of life.

“UPMC’s argument that residents can select other, in-network providers ignores the fact that patients develop special, long-term relationships with their doctors, who are familiar with their patients’ histories. UPMC’s refusal to extend the consent decree is essentially giving thousands of Erie residents the Hobson’s choice of shouldering higher costs or finding new doctors.

“As a charitable organization subsidized by workers’ taxpayer dollars, it’s reasonable to expect UPMC to do the right thing and agree to extend this critical relationship. Since they have refused, it’s time to force the issue – there’s too much at stake to sit by and do nothing.”