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PRESS RELEASE -- Green Party of Allegheny County demands Pittsburgh City Council require more community investment from UPMC

posted Jul 17, 2018, 4:46 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 17, 2018
Pittsburgh, PA
Contact: Tim Jones, Chair, info@alleghenycountygreens.org


UPMC has avoided paying it’s fair share of taxes for years and it is time for the residents of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County region to require a community benefits agreement from UPMC, the Green Party of Allegheny County (GPOAC) demanded today at a Pittsburgh City Council public hearing regarding UPMC’s plans to expand its footprint in the region.

Members of the GPOAC joined One Pennsylvania, Hospital Workers Rising, Pittsburgh United, PIIN, Thomas Merton Center, and Sierra Club in demanding UPMC do more for our community. City Council members were urged to require a strong community benefits agreement with UPMC before considering UPMC’s expansion plans in the region.

Allegheny County today has some of the highest asthma and lung disease rates in the nation, and was recently given an “F” rating by the American Lung Association for poor air quality [1]. UPMC should take its healthcare role seriously by committing significant resources to end air pollution in the region. UPMC must support local wind farm projects and switch all of its facilities to renewable energy sources, which would clean our air, improve our health, and bring local, green jobs to the region.

Additionally, as the largest employer in the state [2], UPMC must take responsibility in fighting poverty. UPMC must commit to paying a living wage of at least $15 per hour to all workers, starting immediately, and financially support affordable housing initiatives for residents affected by expansion of UPMC facilities. UPMC must also recognize workers’ rights and end any and all resistance to unionization efforts.

GPOAC recognizes healthcare as a human right and supports the establishment of a comprehensive, guaranteed, single-payer healthcare system in Pennsylvania to protect that right. We expect UPMC to provide comprehensive healthcare for all residents, including by expanding addiction treatment and mental health services at Mercy Hospital and throughout the region, and ensuring all residents regardless of insurance provider can receive affordable treatment at any UPMC facility.

As a non-profit, UPMC receives large tax breaks despite increasingly operating like a for-profit insurance giant. In 2011-2012, UPMC made nearly $1 billion in profits, which prompted past Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to sue UPMC for its non-profit status [3]. The lawsuit was dropped in 2014 under current Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration with the explanation that it would help negotiations between UPMC and the city for voluntary payments from non-profits [4]. Since then, UPMC has continued to grow its profitable business as the city budget struggles with infrastructure problems, poverty, and school funding.

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[1] https://www.ehn.org/pittsburgh-air-quality-is-getting-worse-2561249417.html

[2] http://www.upmc.com/about/facts/pages/default.aspx

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nonprofit-hospital-makes-billions-should-it-get-a-tax-break/

[4] https://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6524239-74/upmc-nonprofits-peduto

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