Gentiva to acquire hospice provider Odyssey for $1 billion

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Home health and hospice provider Gentiva Health Services Inc. plans to acquire hospice provider Odyssey HealthCare Inc in a transaction valued at more than $1 billion.

The proposed merger would create the second-largest hospice care provider in the U.S. behind Vitas Hospice Services LLC, a privately held company, Reuters reported. The newly merged company would deal with an average daily census of 14,000 patients in 30 states, and comprise roughly 6% of the hospice care market. The deal is expected to be complete during the third quarter of this fiscal year.

Hospice and palliative care is playing an increasing role in skilled nursing and long-term care. The number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving hospice care in nursing facilities rose 62% between 2001 and 2006, climbing from 580,000 to nearly 940,000. (McKnight's, 9/11/09)