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Pennsylvania Lawmakers: Highmark-West Penn Deal May Hurt Small Hospitals

Four Pennsylvania state senators sent a letter to Gov. Tom Corbett, arguing the pending merger between Pittsburgh-based health insurer Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Health System could hurt small local hospitals if safeguards are not put in place, according to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report.

The senators wrote the letter after consultants hired by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department released findings on potential effects of the Highmark-West Penn consolidation. The consultants found that seven community hospitals in the surrounding Pittsburgh area would lose an unidentified number of patients to West Penn, and the senators are concerned Highmark will direct patients to West Penn to boost the health system's troubled financial profile, according to the report.

However, Highmark has said its acquisition of West Penn will not impact smaller community hospitals. Instead, the health insurer said it will raise West Penn's finances by convincing more patients to choose West Penn instead of healthcare giant University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The seven hospitals named in the report that could experience patient volume declines were Butler Memorial Hospital in Butler, St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon, Excela Latrobe Hospital in Latrobe, Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg, Heritage Valley Sewickley Hospital in Sewickley, Uniontown Hospital in Uniontown and Washington Hospital in Washington.

Highmark CEO William Winkenwerder Jr. believes the deal will still receive approval from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report. A decision is expected by April 30, when the affiliation between Highmark and West Penn technically expires.

More Articles on Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Health System:

Pennsylvania Officials Release Consultant Reports on Highmark-West Penn Deal
Highmark Revenues Surpass $15B
Highmark Launches West Penn Debt Offer as Deal's April Deadline Looms

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