Aetna supports Highmark-West Penn acquisition with limits

Insurers in Pennsylvania support Highmark's proposed acquisition of West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS), as long as state regulators take steps to limit Highmark's current market dominance.

Pennsylvania Commissioner Michael Consedine convened a public hearing Tuesday to hear comments on the planned $475 million affiliation. The department currently is reviewing the merger's potential statewide impact, KDKA reported.

If Highmark and WPAHS merge, it could enhance competition in the health insurance market; however, the president of Aetna in Pennsylvania said the deal should include conditions that break Highmark's dominance, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

"Insurers must have access at fair rates," said Aetna's Patrick Young. "Highmark's acquisition can be very positive for Western Pennsylvania if the right consumer protections are put in place."

In particular, Young suggested that Highmark and WPAHS extend the same reimbursement rates to all insurers. He added that Highmark shouldn't be able to steer its members to WPAHS.

Likewise, HealthAmerica Pennsylvania CEO David Fields said he supported the Highmark-WPAHS acquisition, but only if regulators implement conditions, such as preserving other insurers' access to WPAHS facilities at "market rates," reported the Pittsburgh Business Times.

To learn more:
- read the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article
- check out the KDKA article
- see the Pittsburgh Business Times article

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