I know that secretly you’re all bored of this Supreme Court nonsense, and want to get back to the real business of health care, which is often the ongoing war between regional insurers and regional health systems. And the war in Pittsburgh between Highmark and UPMC has been as fierce as anywhere. But it’s been lacking in the kind of juice that makes for a good Friday afternoon scandal. Until now.

Last Sunday Highmark CEO Ken Melani got arrested. (This is a real arrest not one of the fake kind featured in last Friday’s funny). Melani’s mistress  was some 25 years younger than him and had been working for him at Highmark. That then progressed to her moving in with him. But after an argument with Melani last Sunday she went back to her husband’s place. Melani went around there and apparently accused her of only wanting him for his money –he was on about $4.5m a year–and ended up in a fist fight with her husband. Apparently his mistress wasn’t leaving him for good and wasn’t intending to get back with her husband, but one policeman apparently heard Melani say that he’d have killed both of them if the police hadn’t stopped him.  Either way it’s juicy stuff for health care.

Highmark  is in the process of buying  the only non-UPMC chain in Pittsburgh, West Penn Allegheny, and is still trying to get to a contract with UPMC that keeps it playing in the town–which UPMC of course dominates. Melani is now on unpaid leave and presumably not coming back any time soon, while as of today Highmark Chairman Robert Baum has taken the reins.

This may end up meaning nothing in the ongoing UPMC/Highmark battle, but I do sit here musing that the only way this would have been better for the Friday Funny is if the mistress in question had been UPMC’s CEO Jeffrey Romoff’s wife–who herself is some 30 years younger than Romoff and happens to be wife number 4. But as the Rolling Stones say, you can’t get everything you want!

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3 Responses for “Friday Funny: Health care meets Jerry Springer – (in Pittsburgh!)”

  1. JEPittsburgh says:

    I an new to Pittsburgh and this certainly makes for an interesting twist in the battle. THe media has been having a field day.

    However, while everyone talks about UPMC’s size no one seems to discuss the fact that Highmark has 65% of the insurance market in Pittsburgh. That is unheard of in this day in age. It is as if the whole 1990s-2000s completely bypassed this area.

    I’d really like your take as to why no one brings this up as it appears to me you have 2 near monopolies operating in this region.

  2. J.D. Kleinke says:

    Funny indeed.

    Re: JEPittsburgh’s response…it’s coming. Just do a find-and-replace on this post and swap “FTC” for “police,” “Allegheny Hospital System” for “mistress,” and “free market” for “husband.” “Melani” of course can stay “Melani,” unless he’s actually convicted of something. But in a town where you control 65% of the health insurance market, the wheels of justice tend to roll your way.

  3. J.D. Kleinke says:

    Funny indeed.

    Re: JEPittsburgh’s response…it’s coming. Just do a find-and-replace on this post and swap “FTC” for “police,” “Allegheny Hospital System” for “mistress,” and “free market” for “husband.” “Melani” of course can stay “Melani,” unless he’s actually convicted of something. But in a town where you control 65% of the health insurance market, the wheels of justice tend to roll your way.

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