The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

April 5, 2014

Insurance spat will not be felt here, officials say

JOHNSTOWN — As UPMC and Highmark/West Penn Allegheny continue a high-stakes standoff over in-network insurance coverage in Greater Pittsburgh, leaders from both sides say patients who use hospitals in this area will not be caught in the crossfire.

“Simply put, the Highmark-UPMC contract expiration does not affect communities where UPMC is a sole provider, such as Altoona and Bedford,” spokeswoman Susan Manko said in a statement.

UPMC leaders insist they will no longer accept Highmark insurance at its Pittsburgh-area hospitals after Dec. 31.

“UPMC cannot, in keeping with its central clinical and academic mission, its duty to protect and preserve its charitable assets, and its obligations to the communities it serves, enter into any extension of the existing commercial contracts, or any new commercial contracts, providing Highmark with in-network access to any current UPMC hospitals or physicians in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” the UPMC board announced in June.

There are a few exceptions. They include Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, UPMC Northwest in Venango County, UPMC Bedford Memorial and UPMC Altoona.

The exceptions represent areas where UPMC is not in direct competition with Highmark-owned West Penn Allegheny Health System facilities, Manko noted, adding that it will benefit patients to set up competition in the Pittsburgh market.

“Southwestern Pennsylvania, conversely, is a highly competitive, over-bedded, major population center that will greatly benefit from the increased insurance competition, abundant choice and premium reductions resulting from no extension of the contract between Highmark and UPMC,” Manko said.

Conemaugh Health System’s proposed acquisition by Duke LifePoint Health System should not draw the Johnstown system into the fray, both sides agreed.

 “We fully expect to continue our long-term partnership with Conemaugh and have a contract that provides in-network access for Highmark members,” Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger said.

Highmark is also negotiating contracts with both UPMC Bedford Memorial and UPMC Altoona, Billger confirmed.

“Attorney General Kathleen Kane, as part of the conditions for acquistion, said UPMC needed to have a contract with Highmark negotiated,” Billger said.

Bedford’s Highmark contract was part of an agreement between UPMC and Highmark mediated in 2012 by Gov. Tom Corbett.

Conemaugh’s independence from either Pittsburgh giant makes it important not only for UPMC and Highmark, but for other insurance companies looking to expand membership in western Pennsylvania, said Scott Becker, president and CEO.

“We will be insurance agnostic,” Becker said in a recent interview. “We will play with all comers. They need us and we need them.”

Patients who are referred to Pittsburgh-area physicians and hospitals, or who prefer to seek care in the larger city, should check with providers to see if they will pay out-of-network co-payments after Jan. 1.

Randy Griffith covers health care for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • Fire1.JPG Neighbors rouse residents from West End fire

    Vincent Freedman was asleep in a duplex in Johnstown’s West End early Monday when he was awakened by pounding on the door.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • mundys corner wreck 22 Motorcyclist injured on Rt. 271 in Mundys Corner

    An accident reconstruction team was brought in to process a crash scene involving a motorcycle and tri-axle truck on Route 271, investigators said.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rents change with new rules

    A change in federal housing regulations raises the rent for 28 public housing tenants and reduces the rent for 29 tenants in Johnstown Housing Authority communities.

    July 21, 2014

  • Memorial programs recognized

    A national hospital ranking report recognizes Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center as high performing in four categories.

    July 21, 2014

  • Residents seek Sonman memorial

    Relatives of workers involved in one of the biggest mine disasters in the region’s history are working to keep the victims’ memories from fading. Next year marks the 75th anniversary of the 1940 Sonman Mine explosion, which claimed 63 lives.

    July 21, 2014

  • Foul play ruled out in train fatality

    Foul play has been ruled out in the death of a Windber man found struck by a train near Seward early Sunday, investigators say.

    July 21, 2014

  • Correction 07/22/2014

    July 21, 2014

  • Concussion prevention project progressing

    A Johnstown-area hospital and school district are a step ahead of the president's call for more research into sports injuries, having developed a groundbreaking concussion-prevention program aimed at helping all athletes, particularly students, avoid brain injuries.

    July 21, 2014

  • Local briefs 7/22/2014

    July 21, 2014

  • Pennsylvania sees 3rd rating downgrade in 2 years

    New York-based credit ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service is slapping a lower rating on Pennsylvania’s debt for the second time in two years, as state government grapples annually with built-in budget deficits.

    July 21, 2014


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads