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Patients should be the top concern in this saga

Written by Susan Mannella on .

The recent coverage by the Post-Gazette of the negotiations between Highmark, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and West Penn Allegheny Health System are of concern to many in the community.

These are large corporate entities, with a great number of employees, and are huge economic enterprises in our area. But what patients ask their physicians is "Will I still be able to see you?" "Will you still accept my insurance?" "Can I still go to this hospital if I need to?"

In the coverage of these negotiations and corporate relationships, the foremost question of what impact this might have on patients seemed to be a secondary concern. For physicians, it is our primary concern. And, of course, physicians are worried about their ability to retain staff privileges at hospitals that are economic competitors and to refer patients to other physicians and clinical programs that may be able to help them.

Our region should have a vibrant, competitive marketplace that allows patients, and physicians, choice. Clinical competitiveness spurs improvement in care that benefits all of us. We are all seeking more efficient, "best practices" care and accessibility to that care.

Highmark, UPMC and WPAHS are large companies that provide critical services and must succeed financially. Each of these companies also has a social mission to serve the health care needs of our patients. We hope that they can find agreement that enhances our region's capabilities and resources.

LEO R. McCAFFERTY, M.D.
President
Allegheny County Medical Society
North Side

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