Highmark-UPMC Saga Lurches toward Resolution

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After months of fireworks from the two goliaths of healthcare in the city of Pittsburgh, the roaring battle has subsided into a fragile, temporary ceasefire that likely will end up punishing subscribers more than any of its principal players.

In the dust, Highmark-insured patients scurried off with the fleeting guarantee that their access to UPMC physicians--for many, the only game in town--is secure at least through early 2014. In comments from dueling spokespeople at Highmark and UPMC, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that rates for Highmark insured patients are still on their way up, perhaps significantly.

In exchange for that peace, Highmark is also abandoning its lawsuit alleging that UPMC engaged in false advertising in its "Keep Your Doctor" ad campaign, which cautioned subscribers that failure to strike a bargain would interrupt the service level of their care. The way was cleared for that concession in April, when the US DOJ agreed to allow the Highmark buy-up of the West Penn Allegheny Health System to proceed.