PA Supreme Court hears arguments on UPMC, Highmark consent degree

PA Supreme Court hears arguments on UPMC, Highmark consent degree

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday on whether to extend the consent degree between UPMC and Highmark that is set to end at the end of June.

The focus for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office was that UPMC is not acting in the public's interest in regard to the agreement, especially with a new rule announced in October that will require out-of-network patients to pay for surgeries up front. Starting in July, that would include Highmark customers.

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But UPMC countered by saying it's a common practice among hospital systems and said that the attorney general’s office is trying to nullify the entire consent decree agreement reached five years ago.

Justices questioned both sides on details of the agreements.


After the hearing, both side seemed happy with their arguments.

“The consent decree does end on June 30 and the Attorney General does not have the right to modify it just because,” UPMC spokesperson Paul Wood said.

“We are appreciative of the opportunity that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has given the attorneys in the Office of Attorney General Shapiro to make his arguments today on behalf of access to affordable health care,” spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office, Joe Grace, said.

Highmark’s attorneys declined to comment on-camera but said they agree with the attorney general that a modified consent decree is in the best interest of the public.