Laurels & Lances
On the “Watch List” : The Highmark-UPMC dispute. State government intervention has led to another extension of the contract between the insurance and medical behemoths. The result probably will be higher costs and could dampen what was becoming a more competitive local health insurance market. For all its supposedly good intentions, government actually is facilitating something not far from price-fixing.
Lance: To Highmark. Before this week’s latest extension agreement, the insurance giant, through a shell group it created, was urging state lawmakers to force UPMC to negotiate long-term contracts that would keep UPMC’s hospitals and physicians in the insurer’s network. But whom do you think would be squawking like a plucked-clean live chicken thrown into a freezer if “the state,” under Act 94, bullied it to enter into a contract? The right of contract also includes the right to not enter into a contract. When government seeks to impel anyone to enter into a contract — think ObamaCare — that’s tyranny.
Lance: To Luke Ravenstahl. Pittsburgh’s mayor insists that the city, in state receivership for eight years, is ready to shed state oversight and ride herd over its own finances. But City Controller Michael Lamb says Pittsburgh’s budget doesn’t meet the statutory requirement — a balanced budget for three consecutive years — and continues to rely on one-time revenues to “balance” its ledger. Given that Mr. Lamb might challenge Mr. Ravenstahl next year, the administration calls Lamb’s findings “politics as usual.” But facts are facts and numbers are numbers.
Lance: To WCCC’s money grab. No matter how administrators parse it at Westmoreland County Community College, a 12.5 percent tuition-jacking set to go into effect this fall is outrageous. If the college’s leaders didn’t see and prepare for inevitable state and county funding cuts — amid the worst recession in modern times — then they need to register for the next Economics 101 class.
Lance: To Fayette County’s hiring follies. Democrat commissioners Al Ambrosini and Vincent Zapotosky picked Robert Carson for the new position of public works director. This, before the county’s salary board authorized the position or set a pay rate. Job parameters should be defined and known (especially with regard to a government job) prior to the position being offered — not the other way around.
Lance: To wet-noodle justice: A woman sentenced for serving alcohol to teens at a June 2010 graduation party, after which three teens died in a vehicle crash, got off without a single day in jail. Westmoreland Judge John E. Blahovec says the sentence is sufficient to send a message to parents. Yes, the wrong message.
Laurel: To Rob Oliver. A body surfing accident left the Pitt-Greensburg alumnus a quadriplegic. He has since dedicated his life to helping others with disabilities. As the recipient of the alumni association’s Alumnus of Distinction Award, Mr. Oliver offers straight-up advice to all facing life’s adversities: “Whining and fussing and complaining and moaning isn’t going to get you anywhere … live life to the fullest.” Hear hear!