The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Business

October 11, 2012

Talks possible between West Penn, Highmark

PITTSBURGH — The chairman of the board of West Penn Allegheny Health System and the head of insurer Highmark Inc. might resume talks less than a month after western Pennsylvania’s second-largest hospital network pulled out of a $475 million takeover by Highmark.

Some West Penn doctors who don’t want to see the deal die met Wednesday with Highmark officials. And now West Penn officials say Chairman Jack Isherwood has called Highmark President and CEO William Winkenwerder to talk.

West Penn, which operates hospitals in the Pittsburgh area, balked at the deal last month claiming Highmark breached parts of the agreement and demanded that the hospital group restructure through bankruptcy.

Highmark denies a breach of contract, but wants West Penn to go Chapter 11 in hopes of reducing nearly $1 billion in debt obligations, which Highmark would assume in the deal.

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