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SOURCE The Coalition for Health Care Choice
Legislation will address the issues of provider consolidation and patient access
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Coalition for Health Care Choice, an alliance of community leaders, businesses and health organizations in Pennsylvania, believes that proposed legislation recently announced by Senators Randy Vulakovich (R-40) and Jay Costa (D-43) is an important step to ensure continuity of health care for patients in Western Pennsylvania who are concerned about the dispute between UPMC and Highmark.
UPMC and Highmark currently have a contract that expires on December 31, 2014. After that time, individuals with Highmark health insurance could be denied in-network access to certain UPMC facilities or be forced to pay higher out of network expenses. The bipartisan legislation being introduced by the Senators would require institutions like UPMC, Highmark Health Services (Allegheny Health Network) and the Geisinger Health System - which operate both hospitals and provide insurance - to contract with any willing insurer.
"Patients develop long-lasting relationships with hospitals and doctors for many reasons, and this on-going battle threatens access to community assets and could potentially disrupt the continuity of care for many patients," said Dennis Gabos, M.D. "A hospital system should not be able to dictate where patients receive their care -- that should always be a decision made by doctors and their patients."
The proposed legislation will be similar to House Bills 1621 and 1622, introduced in September 2013, in that the legislation seeks to protect patient choice and access in the health care marketplace by addressing the issue of provider consolidation across Pennsylvania.
"There should never be a patient denied affordable access to any of our regions healthcare assets simply because of the insurance card they carry," said Susan Schulz, CFO, Coalition for Christian Outreach. "The Coalition thanks Senators Vulakovich and Costa for taking action, and now we are calling upon Senate leadership to move quickly on this legislation so consumers across the state will be able to access any hospital and doctor at a fair price."
The legislation will ensure that any dominant hospital will not be able to demand unreasonable rates from insurers, which raises the overall cost of care. The legislation will also mandate that hospital systems that also operate insurance providers must contract will all insurers.
About the Coalition for Health Care Choice:
The Coalition for Health Care Choice is an alliance of consumers, community leaders, businesses and health organizations in Pennsylvania that are dedicated to preserving the consumers' freedom to make their own health care choices. Health care is a personal and important matter and all decisions need to be made by consumers. The goal of the Coalition is to ensure that all patients have affordable access to any hospital or doctor they choose.
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