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Protect Medicare Access Project: Protecting Seniors in Our Community

October 2, 2015

Seniors in Pittsburgh and throughout the region are deeply upset by UPMC’s efforts to deny more than 182,000 people in-network access to care at their local, community hospitals. PHAN is disheartened by UPMC executives’ decisions to sacrifice care for seniors as they wage their war against Highmark.

We believe that seniors deserve better, and thousands of seniors from across the region believe they do too.  When we reached out to area seniors and invited them to send their messages of concern to the UPMC Board and elected leaders, we were astounded to receive over 5,000 letters demanding that UPMC and our elected leaders protect everyone’s access to care.

Here are just a few of the 5,000 messages we received:

“I have been a yearly giver to Children’s Hosp – UPMC –for my whole adult life, even when it hurt financially. I am 70 years old, have 3 grandchildren. I won’t be seeing any UPMC facility as a charity until you and Highmark stop this foolishness.”

“I’m a breast cancer survivor, whose had the same gynecologist for 30 yrs. She is a Dr with UPMC and I’ve used UPMC screening facilities. I feel like UPMC is pulling the rug from under my feet.”

“My mom is 86yrs old on oxygen, has a very bad heart & has a Dr. that is a UPMC Dr. but has Highmark. She would be devastated if she had to choose a new Dr. & hospital. She goes into congestive heart failure frequently. Any change makes her anxious & confused. I am a nurse & I am ashamed of UPMC. This is ridiculous. UPMC is only interested in making money. They should be taxed.”

“I’m an 81-year-old woman who has Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage since my early twenties, and have been treated by UPMC doctors for many years. It is unconscionable and should be illegal to cut off my access in my senior years.”

There are 182,000 seniors at the heart of this conversation who contribute to UPMC through their tax dollars, insurance premiums and Medicare payments. They have paid for the right to treatment at UPMC facilities and doctors, and UPMC disrupting their care at this stage in their lives is simply unethical.

UPMC executives have appealed a decision by the Commonwealth Court that protected seniors’ in-network access to their doctors and hospitals. In addition to prolonging the insecurity and upheaval that seniors like Kay and her husband are experiencing, this appeal wastes resources that UPMC could be using to deliver patient care to seniors.

It’s time for the UPMC Board of Directors to drop its court case that is recklessly endangering the community, and keep its promise to look out for the health of the 182,000 seniors across our region.