Highmark to meet with West Penn Allegheny doctors over dispute

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PITTSBURGH - Highmark Inc. wants to talk directly to the medical staff of West Penn Allegheny Health System, as the insurer tries to save its collapsing deal to acquire the health system.

Highmark, the state’s largest health insurer, will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Doubletree hotel in Green Tree, according to a memo to West Penn Allegheny’s medical staff from Dr. John Guehl, president of the medical staff.

“The leadership of the Highmark Integrated Delivery Network will host a meeting for all members of the medical staff of the WPAHS Hospitals,” the memo states. “The meeting is designed to provide up-to-date information relative to Highmark’s ongoing plans for the integrated delivery system.”

A Highmark spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The meeting follows an exclusive Tribune-Review report on Wednesday that a group of top West Penn Allegheny doctors are demanding the health system’s board of directors fire the consultants managing the system and return to talks with Highmark.

Highmark and West Penn Allegheny agreed to a $475 million deal in November in which the insurer would acquire the financially struggling hospital system. At the same time, Highmark embarked on a $1 billion plan to build an integrated health care delivery system around West Penn Allegheny, which would compete with UPMC.

At the end of the September, West Penn Allegheny announced it was pulling out of the deal with Highmark because it said the insurer demanded it enter bankruptcy to reduce its nearly $1 billion in bond and pension debt.

Highmark sued West Penn Allegheny last week to prevent it from talking to other potential buyers.

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.