Heads Up: Morning headlines for March 8

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Even by the standards of UPMC, this seems like a really bone-headed play. The healthcare giant is dumping patients who carry a Highmark insurance policy -- even if those patients are willing to pay out-of-network rates. In cash. But, see, UPMC is dumping these patients for their sake: As the Post-Gazette's Bill Toland puts it, UPMC argues that "allowing patients to self-pay now would just delay the inevitable, since it's 'likely that self-funding patients will only be able to obtain limited services from UPMC.'" And apparently, the only way out of that dilemma is to allow patients to have no services from UPMC. Even though UPMC allows other patients, who don't carry the Highmark policy in question. The number of patients affect is apparently small ... but the mind-bending questions this raises about the lunacy of our healthcare system loom large.

Here's your round-up of "so, how messed up is our police bureau, really?" headlines: The lawyer for a city employee at the heart of the bureau's problems, bureau finance chief Sandra Ganster, is speaking out. Ganster says she was ordered by Police Chief Nate Harper to maintain controversial bank accounts at a police credit-union, and did so despite misgivings. She also says she brought her concerns to public safety director Mike Huss -- who so far has been doing a pretty good job at ducking any questions about his role in all this. Huss pops up again in this Trib story about how the city is looking at how other cities handle secondary details. Better late than never!

A new polling outfit offers a survey of the Pittsburgh mayoral race post-Ravenstahl. It essentially depicts a two-person race between City Councilor Bill Peduto and former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, with Michael Lamb and a cluster of not-quite-official candidates behind. As those who follow my twitter feed know, this is the first political poll Keystone Analytics has ever done, so the firm -- which is a subsidiary of the state Realtors Association, of all people -- is untested. But their methodology sounds correct, and the findings do coincide with what a lot of political insiders say the race looks like at the moment.

Senator Pat Toomey: Still a tool.

Check it out: During Rand Paul's recent old-school, actual-show-up-and-don't-stop-talking filibuster, no less a GOP luminary than Marco Rubio praises Wiz Khalifa as "a modern poet.". He also quotes The Godfather.

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