HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 10 -- The Pennsylvania State House Republican Caucus issued the following news release on the behalf of Pennsylvania State Rep. Jim Christiana:
State Reps. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver) and Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) today denounced a campaign-style attack University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) mounted last weekend at Christiana and their bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting patient access and choice in the health care marketplace (House Bills 1621 (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2013&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1621) and 1622 (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billInfo/billInfo.cfm?sYear=2013&sInd=0&body=H&type=B&bn=1622)).
UPMC sent a campaign-style mailer and robocalls into Christiana's district and other districts throughout the state accusing him of trying to "reduce health insurance competition and take away choices for consumers." The House Health Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bills on Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Harrisburg.
Frankel and Christiana called for state Attorney General Kathleen Kane to investigate the spending by tax-exempt nonprofit UPMC, which has "purely public charity" status.
Christiana said, "We should never have dollars from tax breaks going towards this type of material. The management of UPMC is willing to stoop to new levels to protect their business model that is intent on having a monopoly of the western Pennsylvania health care industry. The mailer couldn't be more wrong - these bipartisan bills would increase competition and increase choices for consumers."
Frankel said, "I'm trying to recall when a nonprofit with 'purely public charity' tax exemptions, that seeks charitable contributions, has ever launched this kind of a personal attack against a lawmaker. I think it's unprecedented and the attorney general should review it.
"The recent actions of UPMC's top executives make it clear that they are the ones playing politics. This is just another attempt to take the spotlight away from the bipartisan, common-sense legislation that we've put forth to expand health care access and competition in Pennsylvania."
House Bills 1621 and 1622, known as the Assuring Patient Access and Consumer Choice Act, seek to curtail market power gained through provider consolidation by preventing consumers from being denied access based on insurance coverage and eliminating the ability of any dominant hospital or related physician practice from demanding unreasonable rates for health care services.
The measures would require all hospitals and hospital-owned physician practices that are part of an integrated delivery network to contract with any willing insurer. It would prohibit dominant hospitals and physician-related practices from entering into contractual agreements which would impede the availability of health care services and limit access to any health care facility.
Additionally, the legislation would prevent hospitals from locking physicians into non-compete clauses, which force physicians to leave the area if they want to practice medicine after leaving a hospital system.
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