HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced an agreement on Friday between two health care companies that determines how and where Western Pennsylvania patients can receive health care after the companies' joint contract expires.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said the agreement sets out a framework for a transition plan after the contract ends between University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Highmark Inc. on Jan. 1. The plan is the result of ongoing work from Kane's office and Corbett's leadership team.

"Ensuring greater access to care and transparency for Western Pennsylvania patients has been a top priority since I took office," Kane said. "For all of us, patients must always come first. The joint effort of this office and the governor's team proves that when we work together, we can accomplish a lot."

The agreement addressed multiple areas of concern to patients and policyholders, including continuity of care, vulnerable populations, exception hospitals and physicians, emergency services, local community needs, oncology, and a safety net. UPMC and Highmark also agreed to contribute $2 million to the state for outreach and education needs and to not engage in unclear or misleading advertising.

"This will help many families whose health care and pocketbooks were in jeopardy for far too long," Kane said. "Today's agreement is the first step in what will be a long process, and I will ensure that we will not waver in our commitment to patients and the region."

Highmark will file the framework for the transition plan with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department on July 31. The agreements between UPMC and Highmark are part of consent decree filings with the state.

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