UPMC sues Highmark, claiming false advertising

A high-pitched battle between rival Pittsburgh healthcare organizations took another turn for the worse this week when University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the region's largest healthcare system, sued Highmark for false advertising.

It's not the first time the healthcare adversaries have sued over false advertising that allegedly violated the federal Lanham Act, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Last year Highmark filed a similar suit again UPMC. It was withdrawn in July 2012 as part of a deal extending in-network access for Highmark customers at UPMC facilities through December 2014..

In the current battle, UPMC maintains in its federal court filings that Highmark is falsely claiming UPMC facilities won't admit patients with Highmark insurance, the Tribune-Review reports.

Both advertising campaigns were run by agencies known for their political ads, the newspapers say.

In the latest volley, people in Highmark ads say UPMC wants a monopoly, and a background voice says UPMC is "quite honestly trying to deceive you," the Post-Gazette reports.

UPMC won't renew its insurance contract with Highmark because it says the company is now a direct hospital competitor, the Tribune-Review says. It instead has signed deals with other insurance companies as well as expanded its own insurance.

Meanwhile, patients in UPMC commercials complain their insurer--presumably Highmark--is steering them away from UPMC facilities, according to the Post-Gazette.

For more:
- read the Post-Gazette article
- here's the Tribune-Review story