Q&A: Pa. House Health Committee Chairperson Dan Frankel

BY: - July 17, 2023

The Allegheny County Democrat spoke ahead of the Greater Pittsburgh Healthcare Summit.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — People protest in response to the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

A year after Dobbs: Congress takes a back seat on federal abortion policy

BY: - June 20, 2023

Congress has not enacted federal legislation to either preserve reproductive rights or to restrict abortion.


Here’s why we need the Patient Safety Act | Capital-Star letters

BY: - June 20, 2023

By Eileen Kelly and Claudia Crane The Patient Safety Act, which would set a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio for all Pennsylvania Hospitals, could go a floor vote in the Pennsylvania House as early as this week.  We urge its passage. Currently, there is no numeric staffing standard for nurses in Pennsylvania hospitals, thus no limit on the […]


May is National Nurses Month. In Pa. and beyond, they make a difference in your care | Opinion

BY: - May 25, 2023

The best way to celebrate nurses and underscore the important contributions they make to health is to support their careers.

Abortion rights advocates. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images).

Small, rural communities have become abortion access battlegrounds

BY: - May 24, 2023

Extreme variations in abortion policy from state to state are the new normal, and local challenges are 'what we’re in for,' a Temple University legal scholar said.

As New Jersey’s prison population grays, calls grow for ‘geriatric parole’

BY: - May 23, 2023

1 in 5 people behind bars in the Garden State's state prisons are older than 50. The cost of their care is soaring.

A coalition of labor unions has filed an antitrust complaint against UPMC, asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether the hospital system has used its “monopsony” power to suppress healthcare workers’ wages in the region, and limit their options to seek employment elsewhere. The complaint filed Thursday by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and the Strategic Organizing Center, states that UPMC has an “ongoing pattern of acquisitions and elimination of capacity in hospital and labor markets.” The healthcare giant, which is the largest private employer in Pennsylvania, has been able to “suppress workers’ wages and benefits, drastically increase their workloads, and prevent workers from exiting or improving these working conditions through a draconian system of mobility restrictions and widespread labor law violations that lock in sub-competitive pay and working conditions,” according to the 55-page filing. “If, as we believe, UPMC is insulated from competitive market pressures, it will be able to keep workers’ wages and benefits—and patient quality—below competitive levels, while at the same time continually imposing further restraints and abuses on workers to maintain its market dominance,” the complaint states. “Because we believe this conduct is contrary to Section 2 of the Sherman Act, we respectfully urge the Department of Justice to investigate UPMC and take action to halt this conduct.” Matt Yarnell, president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday that the complaint was groundbreaking “because no one has ever filed a complaint saying that these mobility restrictions and labor law violations are anti-competitive conduct that violate [sic] federal antitrust law.” Antitrust cases typically focus on whether a seller is big enough to have monopoly power that allows it to raise prices, for instance, if it has no competitors. In monopsony cases, a company often controls buying in a given marketplace, including in a region where it controls a large portion of jobs. UPMC, the complaint states, has some 92,000 workers. “Traditionally, workers have two ways to compete for jobs in labor markets,” Yarnell said. “They can leave their current job and look for a better job or they can stay in their current job and try to obtain better working conditions.” But UPMC has cut off these avenues of competition, he added, using non-compete agreements and “do-not-rehire” practices, and preventing employees from forming unions, he added. The complaint also states that the worker-to-patient ratios at UPMC facilities have fallen to levels that can affect patient care. “As of 2020, UPMC ratios are on average 19% lower than the average non-UPMC staffing ratios,” according to the complaint. Jodi Faltin, a nurse at UPMC, said during the conference call that staffing shortages were a constant concern, and that workers often did not speak out for fear of losing their jobs, and fear of being unable to find a new job in the field. “When three-fourths of the hospital jobs in Pittsburgh are with UPMC, your options are limited,” Faltin said. And I didn't become a nurse to maximize UPMC’s profit. I'm not concerned about expanding the Empire or increasing executive bonuses. I care about my co-workers earning a living wage, having affordable health care and being supported to provide safe and compassionate care.” In an emailed statement from Paul Wood, chief communications officer at UPMC, the hospital system refuted the arguments in the complaint. Nursing care at UPMC “is based on [patients’] acuity and needs, not staffing ratios, enabling us to staff with flexibility, deploying our nurses to best meet patients’ needs,” the statement reads. And there is no policy prohibiting an employee who leaves UPMC from being hired at another UPMC facility, according to the statement. “UPMC’s average wage is more than $78,000,” the statement reads. “There are no other employers of size and scope in the regions UPMC serves that provide good paying jobs at every level and an average wage of this magnitude.” U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, D-12th District, said on the call that the healthcare system was “abusing its power to exploit its workers and patients on the backs of taxpayers.” “My hometown Braddock lost our only hospital and largest employer back in 2010 for the same reason McKeesport is closing their ICU this year,” Lee continued. “It’s the same reason Western PA is facing a hospital staffing crisis that’s putting our loved ones’ lives at risk--and the same reason our nurses and health aides, who are paid so little that they’re in medical debt to the hospital they work for, face retaliation for speaking out for their patients being ripped off by skyhigh health care costs and declining quality of care.”

Pittsburgh unions file antitrust complaint against UPMC

BY: - May 18, 2023

PITTSBURGH — A coalition of labor unions has filed an antitrust complaint against UPMC, asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether the hospital system has used its “monopsony” power to suppress healthcare workers’ wages in the region, and limit their options to seek employment elsewhere.  The complaint filed Thursday by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania […]

Lung cancer concept. doctor explaining results of lung check up from x-ray scan chest on digital tablet screen to patient.

With this tech fix, we can improve the healthcare experience for all | Opinion

BY: - May 2, 2023

Chasing after unavailable yet necessary health information wastes precious time and resources, burns out providers, and frustrates patients.


Credit bureau CEOs face tough questions at Senate hearing; Democrats push to remove medical debt

BY: - April 29, 2023

'Medical debt does not correlate with credit risk – it correlates with illness,' U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said.

Pa. Reps. Wild, Meuser partner on bill aiding rural hospitals | Friday Morning Coffee

BY: - April 7, 2023

The proposal would boost reimbursements for rural teaching hospitals, helping them continue to train physicians.

Close-up of a pregnant woman's belly in the hospital bed with catheter in hand

Young people deserve better health care than what anti-abortion centers offer

BY: - March 24, 2023

Crisis pregnancy centers steer people away from abortion — at any cost.

U.S. President Joe Biden and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrive to a meeting with governors visiting from states around the country in the East Room of the White House on February 10, 2023 in Washington, DC. This weekend President Biden is hosting governors that are attending the annual National Governors Association Winter Meeting. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

What to do about the problem that is Medicare Advantage? | Ray E. Landis

BY: - March 23, 2023

Medicare Advantage plans are offerings by private insurers which replace standard Medicare coverage.