Community Issues

Thousands Keep Access to Health Care Under Historic Agreement

Some give credit to the public for putting on the pressure and making their voices heard.

2 million people people in Pennsylvania and beyond can rest easy, knowing the health care and doctors they've become accustomed to will still be there for them under an historic agreement between healthcare giants University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who brokered the deal, made the announcement that, after a week of "intense negotiations," the sides have come to a 10-year agreement that will give Highmark members access to UPMC doctors and hospitals at in-network rates:

The deal comes 6 days before Highmark members were to lose UPMC coverage, causing panic among people who would have had to switch doctors or hospitals.

"This is a really, really big deal." Gov. Tom Wolf

Some lawmakers gave credit to intense public pressure for forcing the deal.

Democratic Senator Lindsey Williams praised people who attended protests and wrote to their representatives. But she said the agreement shouldn't be the end, but the beginning of an effort to protect access to healthcare. "The uncertainty and upheaval that has happened as a result of this dispute has been harmful to patients and their continuity of care."

Fellow Democrat Jay Costa agreed, saying he wants to make sure "that we're not faced with this 10 years from now," when this deal expires, and not just in Western Pennsylvania but throughout the state.

Here's what you can do to keep the pressure on:

How can you start something good?
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