Friday, December 23, 2011

UPMC, Highmark Reach Deal

In a non-descriptive bank building in downtown Pittsburgh, the heads of the major health insurance players and their aides hammered out an agreement for the control of drugs and other health care costs in the Western Pennsylvanian Market.

UPMC CEO Jeffrey A. Romoff thanked the Highmark CEO Kenneth R. Melani, M.D., and the heads of the other five familiar players in the negotiations: Governor Tom Corbett from Harrisburg, Rep. Randy Vulakovich from Shaler, and Rep. Dan Frankel from Squirrel Hill.

"How did things ever get so far? I don't know. It was so -- unfortunate -- so unnecessary. Melani lost patients -- and I lost patients..."  said Romoff speaking to the goup.  "If Melani agrees, then I'm willing to let things go on the way they were before."

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato thanked Romoff for helping to set up this meeting, and praised Romoff for his modesty.  Melani objected, however, that Romoff carried too many judges and politicians in his back pocket and refused to share them.

Romoff countered that he never refused to collaborate on shared interests with Highmark, except for one time, because "I believe that Obamacare is going to destroy us in the years to come."

He continued, "I mean, it's not like chiropractic or acupuncture -- or even mental therapy -- which is something that people want nowadays, and is mandated by HHS.  Even the lobbyists that've helped us in the past with malpractice insurance restrictions and other things are going to refuse to help us when it comes to Obamacare.  And I believe that then and I believe that now."

Onorato suggested that, while the times have changed from one in which Health Insurance Providers could do whatever they want, Romoff needed to share his influence in Harrisburg and Washington and that UPMC could bill Highmark for these services, adding "after all, we are not Communists."

After Corbett suggested that Health Care should be provided to those that could afford it, but not to children or African-Americans, Romoff relented and offered a wish that a peaceful solution could be found to their problems.  Romoff would provide political influence in exchange for the extension of health coverage in Western PA.

Melani insisted, however, that assurances be provided that as UPMC's position become stronger, Romoff would not exact a hostile takeover at a future date.

Romoff objected to the insinuation saying that he had selfish reasons to keep to the deal: his youngest son Michael had been forced out of the health care field by false charges and it was Romoff's desire to bring him back into the fold.  If, however, information were to be leaked to the Department of Health and Human Services or to the FDA, he would blame people in the room.

With that the meeting concluded, but an anonymous insider with UPMC later suggested that Romoff believed that it was Onorato behind this manufactured crisis the whole time.

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