Highmark aired a TV ad saying it would lose thousands of jobs if UPMC doesn't sign a contract to join the insurer's provider network, and Pennsylvania officials are questioning the claim.
The state Insurance Department says Highmark's statement that UPMC's refusal to join its network will result in the "loss of thousands of critical jobs right here in Western Pennsylvania" is inconsistent with information the insurer provided to the state regarding its proposal to acquire West Penn Allegheny Health System, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
"A projected significant loss of employment is a material factor that should have been disclosed," Deputy Insurance Commissioner Stephen Johnson said in a letter to Highmark, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
But Highmark spokesperson Aaron Billger said the insurer's state filings are consistent with its TV ads. The information provided to the department, he said, contained an "enormous amount of modeling," including a scenario for losses if UPMC refused to sign a contract, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.
Without a UPMC contract, Highmark could lose members and as a result eliminate "significant administrative costs," which largely include employee costs, Highmark attorney Thomas VanKirk said in response to Johnson.
The Pennsylvania insurance department is reviewing Highmark's response before it decides whether to take further action.