CEO: Altoona merger with UPMC on track for July 1

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — The president and chief executive officer of Altoona Regional Health System says its move to affiliate with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is set to be announced July 1.

The Altoona Mirror ( ) reports that executive, Jerry Murray, made that announcement in a letter to the central Pennsylvania hospital’s employees on Friday.

About 2,000 workers had signed a petition asking the hospital’s board to reconsider, largely because of concerns that patients covered by Highmark Inc. will be shut out of the hospital’s services if it merges with UPMC.

That’s because UPMC is refusing to extend an agreement with Highmark that lets the insurer’s patients use UPMC facilities at in-network prices beyond June 2014.

But Murray says in the letter that UPMC plans to negotiate with Highmark and other insurers.

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