UPMC physician: Scorn against UPMC is 'malicious envy'

A physician employed by Pittsburgh-based UPMC defended the system and called out its naysayers, including Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, in a recent TribLive opinion piece.

Amesh A. Adalja, MD, first focused on the dispute between UPMC and Highmark, which operates Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh. Dr. Adalja said the disagreement is nothing more than a contract dispute between the two organizations, but it is being treated differently than similar disputes in other industries.

Specifically, Dr. Adalja highlighted Gov. Wolf's public stance on the issues. Earlier this month, UPMC threatened to cut off Medicare Advantage access for Highmark members unless certain conditions are met. After the announcement was made, Gov. Wolf said his office would pursue legal action against UMPC if that is what it takes to reverse the system's decision to block access to Highmark Medicare Advantage customers.

In his opinion piece, Dr. Adalja asked, "If Kmart and Wal-Mart or Coca-Cola and Pepsi had a dispute, would it be a core function of government to try to influence the debate?" Although most people would say the parties involved in those disagreements should work to solve the problem, Dr. Adalja said that is not the way it is in healthcare.

Showing his opposition to the government's involvement in the UPMC-Highmark dispute, Dr. Adalja said, "Healthcare is a vitally important industry and, because of that special status, it is crucial that it be allowed to operate free from government intervention and cronyism."

Dr. Adalja also addressed the recent attacks on UPMC executive pay. In a recent interview with KDKA, Gov. Wolf criticized UPMC for not adequately compensating its front-line workers and for paying its executives too much. In response, Dr. Adalja said no one should be concerned with a CEO's pay other than an organization's board of directors. He also said "if the wages paid at UPMC were truly below what the market required, there would be unfilled positions, as people would seek alternative and more lucrative employment opportunities."

Dr. Adalja said Gov. Wolf knows the facts, and only "evasion and flagrant nihilism" can be his motivation to try and destroy UPMC. "It is long since time that the scorn heaped on UPMC is labeled for the naked malicious envy that it is," wrote Dr. Adalja.

More articles on UPMC-Highmark battle:

UPMC, Highmark battle rages on
Latest development in Highmark, UPMC battle involves delayed payments
Attorney General launches UPMC-Highmark helpline for questions on split

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