Posts tagged: Highmark

Highmark-UPMC battle rages on

(180) Elizabeth Concordia’s announcement this week that she is leaving her No. Two post at UPMC insures the giant health care provider/insurer will continue its hard nose battle with Highmark.

Concordia, only 50, was the latest internal executive said to be heir apparent to Jeffrey Romoff, as CEO. Romoff, 68, pockets a package of about $6 million annually to run the non-profit. Concordia gets about $3 million yearly.

She runs the system’s largest division, responsible for 20 hospitals and 36,000 employees taking in over $7 billion annually. On Sep. 2, she will become President and CEO of University of Colorado Health, a system with 14,500 employees, five hospitals and about $2.5 billion in revenue.

“Concordia could one day succeed Romoff at UPMC” was the headline in the Feb. 17, 2008 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The story emphasized how tough Concordia was, actually beginning her health care career as a 13-year-old volunteer at Temple University Hospital’s emergency room.

Among her duties was wheeling the unsuccessful cases to the morgue and calming young burning victims. She arrived at UPMC as president of UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in 2002 and has been a rising star since.

Until Concordia’s career took off, John Paul was tabbed to succeed Romoff, if and when.

Paul was No. 2 in the UPMC network until 2003. He built UPMC into the region’s top health network. While at UPMC, Paul’s relationship with Ken Melani, then CEO at Highmark, was believed to be instrumental in a war between the two giants not breaking out sooner.

When Paul left UPMC he consulted “here and there” until his four year non-compete clause expired in 2007. Melani recruited Paul in 2011 after years of speculation that he was headed to Melani’s inner circle.

When Melani got pushed out by a Highmark board focused on his personal conduct, Paul retained the confidence of new CEO William Winkenwerder Jr. In 2013, after Highmark took over management of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, Paul was appointed its new CEO and President.

Even though there has been talk of Romoff’s successor for the last dozen years, the speculators are left with no candidates today.

There is little doubt Romoff runs the UPMC show. Unlike Highmark, UPMC board members serve without compensation.

Romoff continues to pursue a corporate business policy whereby UPMC will deny health care to Western Pennsylvania residents insured by Highmark beginning next New Year’s Day. His argument is that Highmark will use the crossover patients to eventually move 41,000 patients from UPMC rolls to Allegheny hospitals.

Some opponents of Romoff’s plan claim the estimated loss of patients cannot be justified. Others believe that both non-profits are in the health care business and should do all that is necessary to provide treatment to those in need.

As might be expected with this controversy, most political leaders have limited their efforts to press releases and sound bites. People connected to both health networks write campaign checks.

Much evidence points to battles of this nature resulting in high fees and charges that do not relate to actual costs.

A simple solution hangs around like a bad cold in the winter.

Bottom Line: Medicare is “universal healthcare” for senior citizens. US taxpayers pay most of the costs. Private businesses provide a variety of supplemental policies and assistance with prescription drugs to provide overall coverage more individually suited.  Everyone on Medicare can literally go to any health care provider.