Highmark sues to block West Penn from other buyers

After West Penn Allegheny Health System canceled its deal to be purchased by Highmark last week, Highmark filed a lawsuit to prevent the health system from engaging in new acquisition discussions with other potential buyers.

Highmark also wants a state court to force WPAHS to repay the $200 million it already invested in the financially ailing health system, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. "In a flight from reality, WPAHS has chosen to take over $200 million of Highmark's money and the expectations of an entire community and run from its obligations to negotiate in good faith and exclusively with Highmark," the insurer said in its filing.

The lawsuit also deems WPAHS' claims that Highmark violated their agreement by requiring WPAHS file for bankruptcy before it would finalize the acquisition as "improper, unjustified, and of no effect," reported WPXI.

Highmark said it "never insisted that WPAHS file for bankruptcy as a condition precedent for proceeding with the transaction." Instead the insurer said a "structured bankruptcy must be considered" and "is open to considering alternative WPAHS proposals that would sustain the system's long-term financial soundness," the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.

In response to the lawsuit, WPAHS said "it is truly sad that Highmark has taken this step," adding that Highmark hasn't "seriously considered" any bankruptcy alternatives.

To learn more:
- here's the Highmark filing (.pdf)
- read the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
- see the Pittsburgh Business Times article
- check out the WPXI article

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