Pittsburgh’s transformation from steel and manufacturing to eds and meds is a well-known story that continues to attract national attention, this time from Time Magazine.
More than 180,000 seniors who rely on Highmark Inc. for Medicare Advantage will keep in-network access to UPMC at least until 2019, Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini ordered Friday.
His three-page decision commands the Downtown-based rivals into binding arbitration to resolve other disagreements they cannot settle on their own — a move that delighted Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
UPMC vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
“The feud between these two companies must end — the people of Western Pennsylvania have had enough,” Wolf said in a statement.
The nonprofit organization said Tuesday that it was offering the voluntary severance to employees who are 60 or older and have at least 10 years of service. The offer, which was made to 5.6 percent of UPMC’s total workforce, includes medical and dental benefits, severance pay and a one-time cash payment of $15,000, UPMC said in a statement.
“This program both honors and respects long-term staff members who are ready to move to the next phase in life and, simultaneously, helps achieve cost-savings for UPMC by adjusting our workforce to meet the demands of the health care marketplace,” the statement said.
UPMC is the state’s largest private employer, with about 62,000 workers.
Allegheny Health Network proposes investing part of $175 million from Highmark Inc. in renovations and technology upgrades at its Allegheny General and West Penn hospitals, anticipating that they will accommodate more patients when Highmark insurance subscribers lose in-network access to UPMC next year.
The Highmark-owned hospital system would build outpatient medical centers and expand emergency, trauma and women’s health services to underserved parts of Western Pennsylvania as part of a spending plan that executives say will help it better compete with UPMC.
“The entire amount … will be used for capital improvements at Allegheny Health Network to fill in certain service line gaps,” Chief Financial Officer Karen Hanlon said during a state Department of Insurance hearing Monday. “No portion of the requested funding will go to pay operating expenses.”
UPMC Treasurer Tal Heppenstall Jr. said Allegheny Health Network is in worse financial condition than Highmark has reported and chided the company for its “profound lack of financial transparency.” He said it appears Highmark is hiding huge losses in “sporadic, fragmented and murky” financial statements.
Pittsburgh police said they expect more demonstrators to arrive during the day. An estimated 600 had gathered by about 11:30 a.m., said police spokeswoman Sonya Toler. None had been arrested or cited as police blocked both northbound lanes of Grant Street at Steel Tower to handle the group.
“We have a bit of gridlock throughout town,” said Toler, who described the crowd as “mannerable” and “well behaved.” Police will decide later when to reopen the Grant Street lanes, though they were trying to reopen at least one as soon as they can, she said.
Morphing from steel industry collapse to eds-and-meds rebirth, from a too-gray place that young people flee to one that attracts them as a “green” center of culture and recreation, from a tale of Rust Belt woe to one of urban transformation, it is indisputable that the Pittsburgh region is a far different place than it was 30 years ago.
And by most standards, it would seem to be a far better place as well.
Since 1983, when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a special section chronicling the unique and worrisome issues confronting the region during Depression-level hits to its workforce, Pittsburgh has lost people, corporations, churches, schools and, yes, even a prothonotary.
But it has rebuilt its economy; added museums, theaters and riverfront trails; replaced its sports facilities, airport and convention center; and reinvented the Pittsburgh Downtown as a place to live, while serving the thousands more who commute to it by opening a subway, busways and a highway to the north.
UPMC‘s months-in-the-making acquisition of the Altoona Regional Health System may soon be finalized, but the deal is not sitting well with some employees and community residents.
Last week, a petition with some 2,000 signatures was delivered to Altoona Health officials, urging them “to slow down and stop exclusive talks with UPMC in order to re-examine the best future course for our hospital.”
The next day, Altoona president and CEO Jerry Murray sent a letter to the health system’s 6,000 employees that said the UPMC affiliation was on track for a July 1 completion announcement, pending final approval from the board and the state attorney general’s office.
“There are some very well-meaning people in the community who have concerns, and we appreciate the concerns that they have. Unfortunately, there are also some with self-serving motives,” said Dave Cuzzolina, Altoona Health’s director of marketing and communications.
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department today gave conditional approval for insurer Highmark Inc. to affiliate with the financially ailing West Penn Allegheny Health System, laying the foundation for Highmark’s plans to establish an integrated health care delivery system to compete with UPMC.
Insurance commissioner Michael Consedine, in a release announcing the decision, said, “Our goal from the outset was to have a comprehensive, transparent review in order to make a fully informed and well-founded determination. We have met that goal.”
In statement, Gov. Tom Corbett said “the goals for the commonwealth are to improve health care access, quality and affordability. Today’s decision is an important step toward making these goals a reality in Western Pennsylvania.”
When UPMC paid $10 million in 2006 for the old Ford Motor Co. building on Baum Boulevard in Bloomfield, jaws dropped at what some considered an exorbitant price, even for a local landmark.
The sale “sort of stopped purchasing for a while because a lot of people thought they could get rich, too,” Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto said. “They thought that if they held out, UPMC would knock with a check with a couple of extra zeroes.”
People did indeed get rich following the sale of the 1915 building that once served as a Ford assembly plant and showroom, but not by holding out as a way to take advantage of the $10 billion health care giant.
They simply owned the right property at the right time when UPMC, with its deep pockets, made a strategic decision to establish a larger East End footprint.
UPMC‘s Presbyterian/Shadyside hospital is the highest grossing hospital in America, according to a leading hospital industry journal.
UPMC is not so sure.
Becker’s Hospital Review, based in Glencoe, Ill., recently put UPMC Presbyterian/Shadyside first on its “50 Top Grossing Hospitals” list with $10.19 billion in total patient revenue, followed by The Cleveland Clinic at $9.86 billion.
Two other Pennsylvania hospitals were in the top 10, both based in Philadelphia — Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (No. 8, $5.98 billion) and Temple University Hospital (No. 10, $5.9 billion). (The complete list can be viewed online at http://www.bec