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Judge Vows To Move Fast In UPMC-Highmark Case As Deadline Looms

HARRISBURG (KDKA) -- Healthcare is at stake for thousands of patients in Western Pennsylvania who stand to lose the in-network discounts for treatment at UPMC facilities and doctor's offices.

As it stands now, as of June 30, UPMC doctors and hospitals will no longer accept Highmark insurance.

It's part of a consent decree reached between Highmark and UPMC five years ago.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is suing to change the consent decree. He didn't comment Friday but previously criticized UPMC for wasting its tax-exempt status on executive salaries, perks, corporate jets, and prestigious office space.

"I can't sit idly by and watch our seniors and children and workers suffer because of corporate greed," he said.

Shapiro points out that UPMC occupies 30% of the tax-exempt land in Pittsburgh and owns more than $2 billion in tax-exempt property.

It means UPMC is exempt from about $40 million per year in property taxes to Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson has called for a quick hearing.

"I think we've got to get this out of here in about two weeks," he said.

He's called for a hearing on June 11 and 12 and promises a ruling by June 14 on whether the decree can be modified.

However, he points out that the ultimate decision is going to be decided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

There was no immediate comment from UPMC Friday.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will be under the gun to make a ruling on the fate of Highmark insurance patients by June 30.

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