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West Penn Says Highmark Remains "Best-Suited Partner" Despite Weeks of Tension

After more than a month of allegations, court hearings and overall tension, attorneys for Pittsburgh-based West Penn Allegheny Health System said health insurer Highmark remains the "best-suited partner" for the financially beleaguered health system, according to a Pittsburgh Business Times report.

West Penn attorneys made that statement in a court filing Wednesday, which was the deadline for briefs in Highmark's request for an injunction against West Penn. Highmark requested the injunction to prevent West Penn from resuming a search for another partner after the health system nixed merger talks with Highmark Sept. 29. No date has been set for a ruling on the injunction.

West Penn has said an injunction would financially harm the system and "facilitate Highmark's efforts to thrust a new, less favorable transaction upon WPAHS once all its other options have been lost," according to the report. In recent court filings, CCC-rated West Penn indicated it may be forced to reduce services and implement layoffs unless it receives a cash infusion by June 2013. 

West Penn canceled its pending $475 million merger with Highmark in September, alleging the payor breached the affiliation contract by urging West Penn to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy — a move the health system wanted reserved as a last resort.

Last month, as part of the court hearing, Highmark's CEO said he urged bankruptcy to increase the odds of regulatory approval for the payor-provider deal.

Lawmakers and West Penn physicians have urged the health system to resume negotiations with Highmark, making West Penn's admission that Highmark remains the best partner an interesting development in the chain of events thus far.

More Articles on Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Health System:

West Penn Interim CEO Holds Onto Post Despite Expired Contract
West Penn Allegheny Health System's Operating Losses Top $112M
Highmark Offered West Penn $125M to File for Bankruptcy

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