To his credit, Senator Costa has played a critical role in keeping leaders together and moving forward with common purpose. As previously mentioned in this blog, Rep. DeLuca and Rep. Frankel have sponsored legislation to address UPMC vs. Highmark, and their bills include dozens of Republican co-sponsors. As Senator Don White recently commented, "This is about as nonpartisan a project as your going to see come out of Harrisburg." (PG Sean D. Hamill)
A couple of weeks ago, Senator Costa sponsored companion legislation to the DeLuca and Frankel bills, along with an additional proposal that forces UPMC and Highmark to reapply for their Charitable Organization status in the event that their contract terminates,
I think there is a legitimate question about [UPMC's] charitable status in part because of their concern about competition," Mr. Costa said. "Because that infers that there's a profit concern on their part, and that's not charitable."(PG Hamill)What does UPMC think about the proposal? According to UPMC spokesman Paul Wood:
The central piece of Sen. Costa's legislation is to regulate the rates hospitals are paid for their services. This would represent a massive governmental intrusion into the healthcare marketplace...Usually a free-market argument like this would resonate with state officials, especially Republicans. After all, Western Pennsylvania is a model 21st century "Eds and Meds" economy and we want growing industries to take root here, prosper, create jobs, and contribute to the vitality of our region.
But not at the expense of the people's fundamental right to health care. Mr. Wood's argument duly noted, it seems that state officials on both sides of the aisle may be willing to make an exception in this case.