Lawmakers go after UPMC 

Two Pennsylvania lawmakers are setting their sights on UPMC, elevating allegations published in a report from the American Economic Liberties Project that accuses the Pittsburgh-based health system of building a monopoly.

The American Economic Liberties Project, a nonpartisan organization established in 2020, published an 18-page report on the nonprofit health system, titled "Critical Condition: How UPMC's Monopoly Power Harms Workers and Patients," Jan. 19. The report is introduced by Pennsylvania State Rep. Sara Innamorato and U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, co-conveners of the Pittsburgh Hospital Workers Task Force. 

The report examines UPMC's growth and consolidation over the last decade, noting its growth from a system of 12 hospitals to 40 that employs 92,000 people.  

Some central allegations made in the report:  

  • UPMC controls three out of every four hospital jobs in Allegheny County.
  • UPMC's market concentration gives it "considerable power over workers, which it wields to keep wages low, conditions unsatisfactory, and prevent union organizing."
  • UPMC engages in union-busting. "Any worker who attempts to organize is surveilled, harassed, intimidated, and ultimately fired," the report alleges. 
  • UPMC is understaffed, risks workers' safety and is "unwilling to ensure the workplace conditions necessary to prevent talented workers from leaving."
  • UPMC is "notorious for using its market power to acquire, and subsequently shut down, hospitals to reduce competition." The hospital names two hospitals — UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster and UPMC Susquehanna Sunbury — as examples. 

UPMC did not share comment on the contents of the report when reached by Becker's, but said "it appears to be based on the same flawed data and statistical analyses as other reports, which have been debunked."

The report proposes an agenda for federal, state and local lawmakers to "reform" the healthcare industry in Western Pennsylvania, with recommendations to increase scrutiny of hospital mergers, ban the use of non-compete agreements, support hospital workers forming unions and investigate UPMC's tax-exempt status, among other actions. 

UPMC has previously faced scrutiny over its nonprofit status. In 2013, the city of Pittsburgh challenged UPMC's tax-exempt status, which spares the organization from property and payroll taxes. After a year-long dispute and pushback from UPMC, the city dropped its lawsuit challenging the system's status.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars