Pennsylvania hospitals join UPMC fight against AG

Hospitals in Pennsylvania filed a motion to join a UPMC lawsuit that accuses the state's attorney general of unlawfully interfering with the health system's Highmark Health dispute.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania filed its motion March 25 in the Middle District Federal Court. In its filing, HAP said Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro's move to require Pittsburgh-based UPMC to partake in binding arbitration if an impasse is reached with an insurer will have "significant policy consequences."

"The Office of Attorney General has proposed a plan that would potentially force all nonprofit hospitals to do business with any insurer regardless of that insurer's offered payment terms, procedures for assuring high-quality care, or the strength of its provider network," HAP said in a news release. "Hospitals would have their hands tied, keeping them from standing up for their patients and communities."

In the wake of the filing, Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network, a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based Highmark, terminated its membership with HAP, a spokesperson with the organization confirmed with Becker's Hospital Review. HAP represents more than 240 hospitals and health system members.

In late February, UPMC sued the attorney general's office over its attempt to compel the health system to work with Highmark. After a 2014 consent decree with Highmark expires June 30, roughly 175,000 Highmark Medicare Advantage plan members will lose in-network access to 11 UPMC hospitals and most UPMC physicians. In his lawsuit, Mr. Shapiro claims UPMC has violated state law by restricting access to its network of hospitals and physicians.

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