This week, Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder, and a round table of labor leaders to discuss the implications of the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) and Highmark dispute a
For those unfamiliar with this story, here’s the run down:
In 2014, UPMC and Highmark signed a five-year consent-decree to keep in-network rates for Highmark customers. Both the healthcare provider and the insurer are unable to come to an agreement on the consent decree as they are racing toward a deadline. The current consent decree will end on June 30th. At that point, thousands of patients with Highmark insurance will be forcibly separated from their doctors, and unless they are able to pay UPMC up-front for treatment, they will be denied the healthcare they need.
UPMC is a non-profit organization and is considered under the law to be a charity. They receive millions in tax exemptions and taxpayer funds. Now, they will be refusing treatment to those same taxpayers.
Attorney General Shapiro pled with the Commonwealth Court to extend the consent decree, but the Judge was unable to rule in favor. Shapiro has appealed the case to the state Supreme Court.
This politely-termed debacle puts at risk the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians, including union members, their families, and their communities. Labor unions are doing what they can to end this stand-off spurred by UPMC greed that has put Pennsylvanians in the middle.
In addition to the discussion of the UPMC-Highmark dispute, were misclassification of workers and the so-called “no-poach” agreements that affect low-wage workers in the foodservice industry. Labor leaders discussed the impacts of wage theft on workers in different sectors and the legal onslaught of post-Janus, right-wing funded attacks on unions.