Bryan Cohen Oct. 29, 2013, 5:17pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced an agreement Monday with Geisinger Health System Foundation to ensure regional access to quality and affordable healthcare in Mifflin and Juniata counties.

Geisinger is the non-profit parent of five hospitals. A review of the merger of the hospitals raised concerns about pricing and competition in the region. The eight-year agreement resolves antitrust concerns and reflects Geisinger's efforts to preserve healthcare competition in the area.

"Access and price are most important to consumers when it comes to health care," Kane said. "Consumers want to be able to see their physicians and obtain quality hospital services locally, regardless of what insurance card they carry in their wallet. They also want reasonable prices for health care services."

Under the terms of the agreement, Geisinger will ensure there are no arbitrary price increases for physician and hospital services and will continue to not prohibit health plans from offering healthcare products known as tiered products that enable consumers to choose their own healthcare services based on cost and quality. Geisinger also agreed to continue to operate Lewistown Hospital as an acute care hospital for at least eight years, allow Lewistown's employed primary care physicians leave Geisinger's employ up to two years after the merger with no restrictions for continuing to practice in Juniata and Mifflin counties and maintain health plan contracts for Lewistown Hospital and its employed physician group through the remainder of their terms.

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