Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: UPMC ruling will leave Pennsylvanians unprotected

ERIE, June 14 – The Commonwealth Court’s ruling today that it could not intervene to prevent dissolution of the UPMC-Highmark consent decree set to expire June 30 is terrible news for the state’s health consumers, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie.

“Today’s ruling is exceedingly disappointing,” Bizzarro said. “In light of UPMC’s refusal to step up to the plate and do the right thing by the state’s health care consumers, we were hoping the court might provide some relief,” Bizzarro said. “Although the ruling is appealable, that’s small comfort for the thousands of patients, particularly here in western Pennsylvania, who stand to lose access to their trusted, chosen providers."

Harkins agreed, noting that UPMC’s position is especially troubling in light of its status as a charitable organization.

“As a charitable organization receiving funding from taxpayer dollars, it’s unfortunate that UPMC does not see its obligations to the state’s patients as a compelling reason to extend its relationship with Highmark,” Harkins said. “As legislators, it’s our top priority to ensure that those patients are protected, which is why I’m supporting legislation that will ensure charitable companies like UPMC behave in the public interest.”

Merski shared his colleagues’ disappointment, saying, “We had hoped to see a different result today on behalf of the many thousands of Pennsylvanians who purchased insurance and expected to enjoy lasting relationship with their doctors. It’s especially difficult to see these longstanding relationships between patients and doctors severed because of the dissolution of the consent decree. We’re hoping that the attorney general will appeal on behalf of all the Pennsylvanians who need – and deserve – continued access to their doctors.”