UPMC gets in tiff with lo­cal news­pa­per

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

The cross­fire in the feud be­tween the UPMC health sys­tem and in­surer High­mark has hit another party— home­town news­pa­per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

UPMC has banned the pa­per from five of its hos­pi­tal gift shops, ac­cus­ing it of “slanted” cov­er­age, the pa­per re­ported.

In an in­ter­nal memo, UPMC ac­cused the Post-Gazette of treat­ing the health sys­tem un­fairly.

“The P-G’s hos­tile ed­i­to­ri­als and in­sen­si­tive car­toons have bled over into slanted news cov­er­age,” UPMC said.

UPMC did not ad­dress the gift shop ban in its note. But it did say it can­not sup­port the Post-Gazette through advertising or sub­scrip­tions.

“The P-G has the right to print what it wants,” UPMC said. “We have the right not to pay for it.”

Ex­ec­u­tive Editor David Shribman de­fended the news­pa­per. “We be­lieve that our cov­er­age of UPMC has been fairminded in ev­ery re­spect,” he told the As­so­ci­ated Press.

UPMC op­er­ates more than 20 hos­pi­tals and has more than 60,000 em­ploy­ees.

The news­pa­per said UPMC has crit­i­cized it fre­quently over the years, most re­cently over its cov­er­age of an on­go­ing con­tract bat­tle with High­mark. High­mark and UPMC have been feud­ing since High­mark, the largest health in­surer in the re­gion, ac­quired a ri­val health sys­tem—now called Al­legheny Health Net­work—in 2013.

UPMC cited a neg­a­tive story about a com­peti­tor that ran on the front page of the Pittsburgh Tri­bune-Re­view in June, but ran only as a brief in the busi­ness sec­tion of the Post-Gazette. It also pointed to a se­ries of ed­i­to­rial car­toons, in­clud­ing one about the High­mark dis­pute that seemed to com­pare UPMC with the Is­lamic group ISIS.

The UPMC-High­mark fra­cas seems to be wear­ing thin for lo­cal of­fi­cials.

“Both of these en­ti­ties have a view that there’s noth­ing more im­por­tant than their dis­pute with each other,” James Don­ahue, the Penn­syl­va­nia ex­ec­u­tive deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral who is one of those charged with mak­ing sure the pair com­ply with a year-old con­sent de­cree, told the Post- Gazette.

Don’t look for the Post-Gazette in the gift shops of five UPMC

hos­pi­tals.

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