After a year and a half of deliberation, on Monday April 29, 2013 the PA Insurance Department announced its approval of the affiliation between Highmark and the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS), marking an exciting step forward in the future of healthcare delivery in Western Pennsylvania.
“Western Pennsylvanians deserve a real choice in their health care providers. Affiliating with Highmark will make sure patients have that choice and that WPAHS continues to provide a high quality, cost efficient alternative to UPMC,” said Darlene Benny, a registered nurse at Allegheny Valley Hospital.
The stakes of this decision were high— not just for the nearly 12,000 employees of the WPAHS—but for people across the entire region.
Approval of the affiliation was absolutely crucial in order to preserve access to high-quality, affordable care for patients; maintain and create thousands of good, family-sustaining jobs for workers; and ensure a competitive marketplace with ample consumer choice to help move Western PA into the future of healthcare.
For months, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania members from Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Valley Hospital, and Canonsburg General Hospital fought for their jobs and their patients by going to rallies, writing letters, calling elected officials, gathering petition signatures, submitting public comments, and testifying in court.
Elected officials from around the region also stood up for employees and patients in astounding numbers! We would like to thank the following elected officials who spoke out in support of the affiliation:
U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle
U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
Allegheny Controller Chelsa Wagner
Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb
State Senator James Brewster
State Senator Jay Costa
State Senator Jim Ferlo
State Senator Wayne Fontana
State Senator Matt Smith
State Senator Tim Solobay
State Senator Randy Vulakovich
State Representative Paul Costa
State Representative Dom Costa
State Representative Daniel Deasy
State Representative Anthony DeLuca
State Representative Frank Dermody
State Representative Dan Frankel
State Representative Ed Gainey
State Representative Marc Gergely
State Representative Jaret Gibbons
State Representative William Kortz
State Representative Nick Kotik
State Representative Joseph Markosek
State Representative Robert Matzie
State Representative Erin Molchany
State Representative Brandon Neuman
State Representative Adam Ravenstahl
State Representative Harry Readshaw
State Representative Jake Wheatley
State Representative Jesse White
Pittsburgh City Councilmember Patrick Dowd
Pittsburgh City Councilmember Darlene Harris
Pittsburgh City Councilmember Bruce Kraus
Pittsburgh City Councilmember Daniel Lavelle
Pittsburgh City Councilmember Corey O’Connor
Pittsburgh City Councilmember Bill Peduto
Pittsburgh City Councilmember Natalia Rudiak
Pittsburgh City Councilmember Theresa Smith
Former PA Auditor General Jack Wagner
Monroeville Mayor Gregory Erosenko
Washington Co. Commissioner D. Irey Vaughan
Washington Co. Commissioner Larry Maggi
Washington Co. Commissioner Harlan Shober
Westmoreland Co. Commissioner Ted Kopas
Local unions also supported our efforts, making calls and writing letters in support of the affiliation. In particular, we would like to thank Jack Shea and the Allegheny County Labor Council, UFCW Local 23, SEIU 32BJ, UNITE HERE Local 57, and AFSCME DC 84 for their unwavering support of WPAHS members.
After months of instability and insecurity regarding the fate of their health system, union caregivers are once again excited about the future. The West Penn Allegheny Health System will anchor Highmark’s new patient-centered, integrated delivery network – the Allegheny Health Network—and SEIU HCPA members will be at the forefront working to advance quality patient care in our region.
Congratulations to our union members at the three hospitals in WPAHS and to all WPAHS employees at this historic time!
You can learn more about Highmark’s vision for the Allegheny Health Network at http://healthyfuturepa.com/
Or read some of the media coverage: “Pennsylvania approves Highmark-West Penn Allegheny Health System merger–New Allegheny Health Network hopes to compete with UPMC” (April 30, 2013)