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VITAS Innovative Hospice Care Signs Agreement with Aetna

MIAMI, Aug. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- VITAS Innovative Hospice Care(R) announced today a 3-year agreement with Aetna (AET) that will provide Aetna members access to quality hospice services in major metro markets in Florida, Texas and Georgia.

"Aetna long has been recognized and praised for its commitment to and advocacy for timely and appropriate end-of-life care, with programs such as Compassionate Care," noted Tim O'Toole, CEO of VITAS Innovative Hospice Care. "As a hospice pioneer and innovator, VITAS also has a noteworthy record of success in expanding access to hospice services nationwide."

VITAS provides quality, compassionate end-of-life care for adult and pediatric patients with a wide range of life-limiting illnesses, including but not limited to cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, liver disease, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and AIDS.

Members whose plan sponsors provide the Aetna Compassionate Care program as part of their benefit package will have access to the full range of hospice services through VITAS in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Central Florida, South Florida and Atlanta. The coverage includes all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, medical equipment and supplies required to treat the patient's life-limiting illness. All four levels of hospice care -- routine home care, Intensive Comfort Care(SM) (called Continuous Care by Medicare), General Inpatient Care and Respite Care -- are covered.

"VITAS has provided leading edge, insightful professional education courses to Aetna's clinical staff on hospice care. We are pleased to expand our relationship with VITAS to provide our members increased access to quality end-of-life care services," says Robert Kropp, M.D., Aetna's Southeast and Southwest regional medical director.

O'Toole continued, "Working with Aetna, one of the nation's leading and most respected managed care organizations, will ensure that VITAS can continue to meet the ever-increasing demand for quality, compassionate, responsive end-of-life care from those who seek to maximize quality of life when they have a limited time to live."

About Hospice Care

Because hospice is not a "place" as many believe, VITAS caregivers make visits throughout the community to care for patients in their own home, in nursing homes and in assisted living communities. Hospice is provided in the home to better provide comfort, pain control and symptom management for a patient at the end of life. In fact, recent research published by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization found that most Americans would prefer to receive end-of-life care at home and think hospice professionals are the most knowledgeable in helping them do so.

About VITAS Innovative Hospice Care(R)

VITAS Innovative Hospice Care(R), a pioneer and leader in the hospice movement since 1978, is the one of the nation's largest providers of end-of-life care. Headquartered in Miami, Florida, VITAS operates 46 hospice programs in 16 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin). VITAS, which has evolved from its founding as a volunteer organization by a United Methodist minister and a registered nurse, today employs 8,998 professionals who care for terminally ill patients daily, primarily in the patients' homes, but also in the company's 25 inpatient hospice units as well as in hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living communities/residential care facilities for the elderly. At the conclusion of the second quarter of 2008, VITAS reported an average daily census of 11,924; VITAS served more than 66,000 patients throughout all of 2007. The name, VITAS (pronounced VEE-tahs), is derived from the Latin word for lives. It symbolizes the VITAS mission: To preserve the quality of life for those who have a limited time to live.

Listed on the New York Stock Exchange and headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Chemed Corporation (NYSE: CHE) operates two wholly owned subsidiaries: VITAS Healthcare and Roto-Rooter. VITAS is the nation's largest provider of end-of-life hospice care, and Roto-Rooter is the nation's leading provider of plumbing and drain cleaning services.

For more information about VITAS' National Accounts initiatives, contact: VITAS Innovative Hospice Care(R), National Accounts Department at 1.800.873.5198, or

SOURCE VITAS Innovative Hospice Care(R)
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