The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by insurer Highmark over the health system's recent marketing campaign. A decade-long contract between UMPC and Highmark is scheduled to end in roughly one year, but renewal efforts ended after the insurer entered into talks to salvage UMPC's struggling rival.
UPMC asks judge to dismiss Highmark lawsuit
Highmark unveiled plans in June to pour $50 million into West Penn Allegheny Health System and invest or loan another $425 million. Highmark soon after sued to halt an UPMC advertising campaign that touted the upcoming end to Highmark's contract and the system's new contracts with rival insurers.
In U.S. district court in Pittsburgh, UPMC claimed Highmark refused offers to jointly notify the public that the insurers' UPMC contracts would expire on June 30, 2012. Highmark also reviewed possible communication and did not voice any factual objections, UMPC said in its motion to dismiss Highmark's lawsuit. The system also rejected Highmark's allegations that its campaign violated federal law and contractual obligations. The system dismissed Highmark's lawsuit as “a public relations opportunity,” the court filing said.
Highmark spokesman Michael Weinstein said the insurer had not had time to review the motion. “While Highmark will review the UPMC filing, we continue to urge UPMC to cease the delay tactics and get back to the table to negotiate a new agreement with Highmark, which is what the community clearly wants,” he said.
UPMC said it would not contract with Highmark in a news release announcing its motion.
“Highmark's decision to spend billions of dollars of their subscribers' premiums to acquire the failing West Penn Allegheny Health System was the determinative cause of UPMC's conclusion that it cannot subsidize Highmark's ventures nor put its own business at risk by entering into contracts with a competing integrated health system,” the release said.
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