Under the Hat:Battle of the Titans - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Under the Hat:Battle of the Titans

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I'm not much into these Transformer movies, with cars and trucks that change into these murderous monsters of metal.

I prefer that my Jeep just stay my Jeep and start when I turn the key.

But that's the image I have, giant Titans stomping and snorting, preparing to lock horns and do battle to the end when I think how the local health care industry is lining up.

The first big move here was Hamot's affiliation with UPMC which changed the landscape by offering some new services here but also funneling referrals to facilities in Pittsburgh.

That would, of course, affect health care traffic and some procedures that were traditionally shifted west to the Cleveland Clinic, particularly with heart work, are now going elsewhere.

That left the obvious move which happened this week as Saint Vincent announced its new relationship with the Cleveland Clinic.

It's not as complete a relationship as Hamot actually integrating into the UPMC system but it will mimic the referral system in getting St. V patients to Cleveland specialists.

Can anyone feel the ground trembling yet?

And you can add to all this the growing rift between UPMC and Highmark over insurance contracts.

First UPMC announcing that they couldn't reach agreement with Highmark, meaning that Highmark customers might soon have to pay more to use UPMC doctors.

That's becoming true elsewhere but not in Erie where a separate agreement is in force.

Highmark responded to that news by acquiring the West Penn hospital system in Pittsburgh, which is the main competitor to, you guessed it, UPMC.

The fear is that, just like the people getting squashed under the feet of those movie metal titans, that patients may get trampled in the crossfire of higher costs or fewer local services.

Others predict just the opposite, arguing that the mightier the competition the better for patients.

Battle of the Titans, indeed. 

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