UPMC filed a federal lawsuit against Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Thursday and responded in Commonwealth Court to a lawsuit against UPMC that Shapiro’s office launched earlier this month.
Pittsburgh-based UPMC alleges Shapiro is unlawfully interfering in federal programs and claims he has illegally taken over nonprofit health care in Pennsylvania.
Shapiro sued in an effort to keep UPMC from ending its business relationship with rival Highmark Health.
UPMC’s federal lawsuit said it seeks to clarify its rights and obligations under federal law.
It claims his “new requirements constitute a radical departure from health care as it currently exists and an unprecedented violation of bedrock constitutional and anti-trust rights.” UPMC accuses Shapiro of unreasonably restraining trade and says forcing it to enter into contracts is an unconstitutional seizure.
A spokesman for Shapiro said UPMC’s new filings indicate the health company will devote time and resources to a legal battle instead of focusing on its nonprofit charity mission.
“We seek a resolution that protects patients — not a continuation of the protracted conflict and bickering that has impacted western Pennsylvania for many years,” said Shapiro spokesman Joe Grace. “We’re very confident in our petition filed in Commonwealth Court, are not intimidated by these court filings, and look forward to making our case on behalf of health care consumers who are getting an unfair deal from UPMC.”
The federal lawsuit seeks court orders preventing the attorney general’s office from interfering with its rights.
UPMC also wants a judge to declare that Shapiro’s efforts will artificially fix prices and violate federal anti-trust law.
The company’s filing in state Commonwealth Court says the attorney general’s lawsuit exceeds his authority and should be dismissed.
The business relationship between UPMC and Highmark had been about to end when the governor at the time, Republican Tom Corbett, got them to sign a five-year consent decree in 2014 that kept in-network rates for Highmark customers in the Pittsburgh area and Erie.
That agreement is scheduled to expire at the end of June, when customers with Highmark insurance will not be able to get in-network treatment through UPMC’s extensive network of hospitals, doctors and other medical providers.