Healthcare Business News

West Penn can keep some deal details mum for now

By Melanie Evans
Posted: January 5, 2012 - 3:00 pm ET

West Penn Allegheny Health System won temporary approval from a federal judge to keep private some details included in the system's affiliation deal with Highmark.

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U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab—who in late December ordered the health system to release terms of the deal, with a few exceptions—said some additional details on contracts and physician pay could be temporarily withheld.

West Penn Allegheny asked the court for permission to withhold the details. The system said in a motion the judge made “what appears to be a clear, inadvertent error” when it ordered the system to disclose some contracts and the names of doctors who are paid more than $500,000. The contracts, which are worth more than $900,000, are agreements that contain noncompetition and other terms, including exclusivity deals, the motion said.

Schwab said in his order that West Penn Allegheny may temporarily withhold the information but must disclose details to lawyers for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, which argued the deal terms should be public. The judge also set a Jan. 9 deadline for UPMC and the newspaper to respond to West Penn Allegheny's request.

The battle over the disclosure comes as part of a 2009 lawsuit by West Penn Allegheny alleging UPMC and Highmark conspired to stifle competition. West Penn Allegheny moved to drop Highmark from the lawsuit in October after the insurer agreed to acquire the health system.

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