State Legislation Will Protect Care

I manage two separate conditions that result in chronic pain. After a long and thorough search to find the best doctor to help me manage my chronic pain, I finally found an orthopedic surgeon at UPMC.

With excitement and hope about finally finding some relief, I called to make an appointment with my new doctor. I never made it to that first appointment, or even had a chance to meet with the doctor of my choice.

Why?  Because UPMC didn’t like my insurance – Highmark’s Community Blue.  I even offered to pay cash out of pocket to see him, but was not allowed all because I had the wrong insurance card.

No one should be turned away from healthcare because of their insurance carrier.   

That’s why new legislation introduced by Representatives Christiana and Frankel introduced is so important. Coming together across party-lines, Reps. Frankel and Christiana are working to make sure that what happened to me stops happening in Pennsylvania. 

HB1621 and 1622 will make sure that all large healthcare systems must accept all insurance cards and that hospitals like UPMC can no longer deny someone access to their doctors and treatment simply for having the wrong color insurance card.

The ability to choose a doctor for ourselves is essential in receiving the best quality care. My care – and the care of thousands of others just like me – should never be put into jeopardy by UPMC’s efforts to increase market share and profit margins.

I am a patient. I should not be treated like a pawn in business maneuvers.

Thank you to Representatives Christiana and Frankel for taking a stand for all of us.

Donna Goodwin

UPMC Harassing Workers, Again

Yesterday, workers at UPMC had a tremendous victory when the local Region of the National Labor Relations Board issued a second historic complaint  against UPMC. This new complaint alleges that UPMC engaged in at least 44 separate instances of intimidation, harassment, discrimination, surveillance and illegal firings in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, and names 34 UPMC managers as having been involved in these alleged violations.

You probably remember that this February UPMC settled a different NLRB complaint which alleged that UPMC engaged in at least 80 violations of workers’ rights and named top UPMC executives as having allegedly participated in those violations. At that time, as part of the settlement, UPMC brought fired employees back to work, cleared workers’ records, and promised to respect workers’ rights to talk about the union as a way to lift themselves out of poverty.

But rather than abide by those promises, UPMC instead doubled down on its pattern of harassment, intimidation, and discrimination, even firing Ron Oakes, who had just come back to work under the settlement.

The complaint issued yesterday reveals a pattern of anti-worker behaviors that are truly disturbing. The Acting General Counsel of the Labor Board alleges, among other violations, that UPMC had:

  • Illegally fired four workers, including Ron Oakes who won his job back and was allegedly illegally fired a second time
  • Threatened to arrest workers for talking about the union in the cafeteria
  • Retaliated against workers who testified against UPMC at the Labor Board, the  federal agency charged with protecting their rights
  • Interrogated, intimidated, and threatened union supporters, and conducted surveillance of union activities

A recent report issued by Pittsburgh UNITED showed that service workers — the largest category of workers employed at UPMC — earn between 8 percent to 30 percent less than what families in Pittsburgh need to make ends meet. It’s time for UPMC to truly commit to end the harassment and instead to work with employees who want to lift themselves out of poverty.

Together we can make it our UPMC