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Josh Shapiro, Judith Hays

Cancer patient Judith Hays, left, speaks at a news conference with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, right, about  problems she has encountered due to the dispute between health insurance providers UPMC and Highmark Health, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Pittsburgh. Shapiro announced plans for legal action in the dispute. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Latest on the Pennsylvania attorney general going to court to extend consent decrees with health giants UPMC and Highmark (all times local):

4 p.m.

A lawsuit has been filed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro in an effort to keep health giant UPMC from ending its business relationship with rival Highmark Health.

Shapiro acted Thursday in hopes of preventing higher costs from hitting western Pennsylvania patients.

He is asking Commonwealth Court to forestall developments expected July 1 that would leave some Highmark insurance customers facing higher fees or looking for new doctors.

The petition seeks to enforce Pennsylvania laws about fundraising for charity, nonprofit corporations and consumer protections.

It aims to modify and indefinitely extend 5-year-old consent agreements that have kept some Highmark Medicare Advantage members and others with in-network rates for UPMC services.

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2:15 p.m.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro wants to stop a split in the relationship between health giants UPMC and Highmark Health that would likely drive up costs for some patients in the Pittsburgh area.

Shapiro announced Thursday he was filing a Commonwealth Court lawsuit ahead of a July 1 deadline that would leave about 70,000 Highmark insurance customers facing higher fees or looking for new doctors.

Shapiro wants to modify 5-year-old consent agreements that have kept some Highmark Medicare Advantage members and others with “in-network” rates for UPMC services.

A Highmark spokesman says their customers could end up without affordable access to “hospitals that were built for the community by taxpayer dollars, by community contributions.”

UPMC says state law doesn’t give the attorney general authority to force private parties into contracts.

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