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PA Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Appeal Regarding Highmark, UPMC Consent Decree

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court building in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next monthregarding whether to extend the expiration date of a consent decree between Pittsburgh-area health care rivals UPMC and Highmark. 

The appeal comes from state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who wants certain patients with Highmark insurance to continue to receive in-network care from UPMC. As of now, patients will lose that access when the decree expires on June 30.

A spokesperson for the attorney general said the court decision to hear the appeal is, “welcome news. Through this appeal to the Supreme Court, our case will move forward and our efforts to protect Western Pennsylvanians’ access to affordable care will continue.”

UPMC vice president of communications Paul Wood said it was expected that the court would agree to hear Shapiro’s appeal, but that UPMC was confident that the court would rule in its favor.

This appeal is part of a larger legal action from Shapiro which posits that UPMC is abusing the tax-exempt status it’s afforded as a nonprofit by refusing to accept Highmark insurance. That issue is currently before Commonwealth Court, though it’s expected that it too will eventually end up at the state Supreme Court.

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio. As a contributor to the NPR-Kaiser Health News Member Station Reporting Project on Health Care in the States, Sarah's print and audio reporting frequently appears on NPR and KFF Health News.