UPMC, Pennsylvania AG head to state's highest court over consent decree

Pennsylvania's attorney general appealed to the state's Supreme Court April 8, seeking emergency relief before a consent decree between Pittsburgh-based giants UPMC and Highmark Health expires, or for the court to uphold the decrees while state litigation against UPMC proceeds, according to a press release.

A previous ruling from the Commonwealth Court allowed the office to quickly ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro's proposed amendment to the health systems' consent decree.

"Despite its stated charitable mission, UPMC is spending exorbitant sums of money and countless hours on legal tactics aimed at preventing people from receiving care," Mr. Shapiro said. "I will keep fighting for the best interests of patients, payers and the public in Western Pennsylvania. This is one step in a complex legal process, and my Office remains confident in our case and committed to enforcing our Commonwealth's charities laws to ensure Pennsylvanians have access to the facilities built with their tax dollars."

The appeal comes after Mr. Shapiro filed a petition against UPMC in February seeking changes that require UPMC to accept binding arbitration if an impasse is reached in contract negotiations with an insurer. UPMC filed a retaliatory suit in late February, accusing Mr. Shapiro of overstepping authority. Hospitals in Pennsylvania filed a motion to join UPMC's lawsuit, saying Mr. Shapiro's move to require UPMC to partake in binding arbitration if an impasse is reached with an insurer will have "significant policy consequences."

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