Hospital board should rethink UPMC merger

Recently, I read an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding the turmoil between UPMC and Highmark.

UPMC reported that it will not renew its contract with Highmark after it expires at the end of December 2014.

This is very troubling news not only for myself but for thousands of other Highmark subscribers and non-Highmark subscribers in and around the Altoona area especially if Altoona Regional and UPMC merge.

Should the contract expire, then all Highmark subscribers that want to receive services at a UPMC facility or from UPMC physicians will be treated out-of-network, which basically means we will be paying higher out-of-pocket costs.

In the article, it also stated that UPMC refused to treat subscribers of a specific Highmark plan called Community Blue. What will happen in the long-term to the people that have other plans with Highmark? After a period of time, will UPMC start denying the rest of us?

This is a very serious issue that I feel our community needs to address with the Altoona Regional’s CEO and board of directors.

Do they realize the impact that this affiliation could have on this area? Our healthcare is already in jeopardy nationally, and with this partnership, it is just going to affect us more.

Apparently other hospitals were interested in a possible affiliation with Altoona Regional; Geisinger Medical Center was one. This tells me that UPMC is not the only choice for this area.

I am saddened to see that Altoona Regional is rushing into an affiliation with a health care system that may care more about making money than the health of our community.

Nancy Fochler