PITTSBURGH — In a prepared statement, the UPMC Hospital System announced yesterday that, due to the sudden, drastic decrease in government funding, they have no choice but to institute a systemwide “pay-per-breath” policy.

According to UPMC Spokesperson Dr. Edward R. Acketeer, “It’s really not that big of a deal. I mean, patients across the country have already resigned themselves to paying to use our oxygen tanks. Now, we’re just collecting our fair share for the non-bottled stuff. The common slang term for it is ‘air,’ but we prefer to use the official medical term ‘non-bottled oxygen.'”

Acketeer explained the pricing brackets, saying, “The way it works is, from the moment a patient steps onto the premises, we are going to charge 1,000 dollars for an inhale and 2,000 dollars for an exhale. If the patient sneezes? Unless you want to take out a couple extra mortgages on your house… well… just don’t sneeze.”

Adds Acketeer, “It may take some getting used to, but I think the majority of patients would agree that it beats socialized medicine. Sure, you may have to hold your breath while you wait for a doctor, but at least the wait won’t take too long. Now that would be a real nightmare.”

At press time, sources within UPMC reported that the company planned to borrow a term from PNC Bank to more accurately describe the influx of in-patient asphyxiation deaths by instead listing the cause of death as “insufficient funds.”

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