Judge rules UPMC-Highmark 'consent decree' cannot be extended by AG

Judge rules UPMC-Highmark 'consent decree' cannot be extended by AG

A Commonwealth Court judge ruled Wednesday that Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro cannot extend the consent decree between UPMC and Highmark that is set to expire June 30.

In Feburary, a lawsuit was filed by Shapiro in an effort to keep UPMC from ending its business relationship with rival Highmark Health.

Content Continues Below

The judge did not dismiss Shapiro's legal petition altogether, according to the Trib. Shapiro plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

If you want to receive BREAKING ALERTS, please download our WPXI News App. You can also follow WPXI on Facebook and Twitter.

A spokesperson for Shapiro released the following statement:

"On three of four issues, the court ruled today in the Office of Attorney General's favor and denied objections raised by UPMC. On the fourth issue, Judge Simpson ruled that Commonwealth Court itself could not extend the date of the consent decrees – not that such a modification was barred. This enables our Office to quickly appeal to the Supreme Court, which we will do in short order given the impending scheduled expiration date."
"As this complex legal process plays out, Attorney General Shapiro will continue fighting for the best interest of patients, payers and the public in Western Pennsylvania and uphold their access to the health care facilities they have contributed to building."

UPMC said it agrees with Wednesday's decision and released the following statement:

"UPMC agrees with today's Commonwealth Court ruling that the Consent Decrees end on June 30, 2019, which is exactly what the Pennsylvania Supreme Court unanimously decided last year."

In 2014, the state intervened in the dispute between UPMC and Highmark and issued consent decrees with both organizations. Those decrees govern how the two companies must interact to protect further harm to the public, according to a release by the attorney general’s office.

Channel 11's Courtney Brennan spoke to Chuck Colletti, a cancer patient who was diagnosed with stage-4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma several years ago.

“For four years the UPMC medical team has kept me alive, and it’s been great," he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Watch Brennan's full report above to hear more from Cilletti and a patient advocate.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.