Hospital Accuses Rival of Trying to ‘Destroy’ Competition

From the Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

A fight between two Pennsylvania hospital systems has landed in federal court.

The West Penn Allegheny Health System is suing the UPMC (aka the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) and an insurer called Highmark, accusing them of conspiracy and antitrust violations.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains the basic accusations:

West Penn Allegheny accuses the region’s leading hospital system and health insurer with antitrust violations that it says have illegally raised prices for consumers in the region while trying “to destroy West Penn Allegheny.”

The suit lays out various acts against West Penn Allegheny dating back to 2002 that health systems officials say were meant to ensure Highmark’s continued dominance in return for higher payment rates for UPMC and Highmark’s help to “eliminate” West Penn Allegheny.

In a statement cited by the Post-Gazette, UPMC said it “unequivocally denies the allegations,” and added that the lawsuit is an attempt “to divert attention from [West Penn Allegheny’s] own operating and financial difficulties.” West Penn Allegheny reported a net loss of $5.6 million for the quarter ended Dec. 31, the article says. Highmark also rebutted the allegations.

Report sees gains on disaster preparedness

From Modern Healthcare:

America’s hospitals are better prepared to mitigate disasters and public health emergencies than they were eight years ago, but nevertheless are still hindered by communication gaps and potential funding woes, according to a new report conducted for HHS by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The study found that hospital staff—from senior executives on down—have become more engaged in disaster preparedness. Researchers found that the most useful indicator for measuring hospital preparedness is how well it can handle patient surge, how prepared its workers are and how they react during actual emergencies.

“Hospitals are the foundation of the local healthcare response to man-made and natural disasters,” said Craig Vanderwagen, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, in a written statement. “Each community’s success in responding and recovering depends in no small part on how well prepared the local hospital is to withstand and respond to disaster.”

The congressionally mandated study evaluated the first five years of the U.S. Hospital Preparedness Program, from 2002 through 2007