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Health--it's what we all have in common: whether we're trying to maintain our health through good habits or improve our failing health. "Bridges to Health" is 90.5 WESA's health care reporting initiative examining everything from unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act to transparency in health care costs; from a lack of access to quality care for minority members of our society to confronting the opioid crisis in our region. It's about our individual health and the well-being of our community.Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Penn State Health Partners With Highmark Health

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Allyson Ruggieri
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90.5 WESA
The Highmark building in downtown Pittsburgh on Monday, May 22, 2017.

Penn State Health has partnered with Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health. 

The partnership was unveiled at Penn State Health's December board of trustees meeting. Board members voted unanimously in favor of the partnership.  

The move follows a statewide trend of health care provider mergers and alliances.

Penn State Health was established in 2015 as an effort to expand Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Highmark Health is both a health care service and health insurance provider. 

Highmark's rival -- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center -- has already moved into the midstate region, having completed a merger with Pinnacle Health in September.

Highmark and UPMC are locked into a consent decree, which requires them to grant in-network coverage to those covered by the rival insurer.

The consent decree is the result on a bitter feud between the two health providers that began in 2013 when Highmark announced it planned to acquire West Penn Allegheny Health System, leading UPMC to say it would not renew its contract with Highmark. Regulators worked with the two health providers to form a consent decree, which is set to expire in 2019.

At the meeting, officials said Penn State Health will retain its agreements with other health insurers.

WITF receives financial support from Penn State Health.