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UPMC-Highmark court battle escalates

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 21, 2011

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has asked to have a lawsuit filed by insurer Highmark transferred to the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab, who presided over two other cases related to UPMC and Highmark. Highmark's suit alleges that UPMC has disseminated "false and misleading" information through newspaper ads and other communications meant to frighten Highmark members into thinking they will lose their doctor. In the filing Wednesday, UPMC reiterated that it will not renew the current Highmark contract, which expires next year with a one-year run-out period to follow. "It was ethically and socially responsible to inform the community that such changes were coming so people -- our patients, employers and their employees, unions, etc. -- would be informed and able to plan well in advance of the changes according to their circumstances," said spokesman Paul Wood. Instead, he said, it is Highmark that has misled people by "unconscionably urging them to do nothing."