Highmark sues University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, claims $300M cancer drug overbilling

Health insurer Highmark Inc. has sued the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center claiming the hospital network has overbilled it by $300 million for cancer drugs.

Highmark's lawsuit contends UPMC has done that since 2010 by charging for chemotherapy treatments at doctor's offices as though they were performed at hospital outpatient clinics, which charge more for that service.

UPMC spokesman Paul Wood contends Highmark's seven-hospital Allegheny Health Network bills for cancer treatments the same way UPMC does. He also says Highmark is trying to circumvent a court-approved consent decree between the two Pittsburgh-based healthcare giants by filing the lawsuit.

Under the consent decree, Highmark and UPMC are supposed to submit any ongoing fee disputes to an arbitrator.

A Highmark spokesman says the lawsuit was filed to help consumers, who pay more for insurance due to such billing practices.