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Empire BlueCross BlueShield Partnership with Consumer Health Services Inc.

Friday, January 18, 2008 General News J E 4
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NEW YORK and WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 Consumer Health Services,Inc. (CHS), the premier manager of on-site physician centric consumer healthcare clinics, today announced that it has partnered with Empire BlueCrossBlueShield, the largest health insurer in New York State. All current andfuture CHS managed retail-based physician practices will be recognized asEmpire in-network health care providers, increasing accessibility toconvenient, high-quality, immediate care for plan members and providing anoption for those who are unable to access non-emergency care services.

"Non-emergency care administered by an emergency room is a costly andoften a time consuming event for the patient," said James D'Orta, M.D.,chairman and CEO of CHS. "The partnership between Empire and CHS gives Empireplan members access to high-quality, physician-centric care within theirnetwork, which reduces costs to both the consumer and the insurer. Attainingpreferred provider status with Empire validates the CHS convenient-care modelon a new and important level, and helps in providing the optimal customerexperience."

Research has shown that consumers will often seek health care servicesthrough the emergency departments of local hospitals when they are unable tovisit their own physician. According to a 2004 study by the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention, only 13 percent of visits to emergencydepartments are considered true emergencies. Most ER-treated incidents citedin the research were for minor cuts, high fevers, back pain, nausea andvomiting, all of which could be treated by a primary care physician if onewere readily available.

In May 2007, CHS worked with Duane Reade and Endres Bowers Medical Group,PC to launch DR Walk-in Medical Care. CHS currently manages four DR Walk-InMedical Care sites within Manhattan. The physician's, and other health careproviders practicing at these sites, offer an alternative to the ER andprovide New Yorkers with convenient high-quality access on a walk-in basis toroutine physical exams and basic treatment services, along with healthscreenings, medical tests and vaccinations. CHS has plans to expand to theouter burroughs in the early part of 2008, in addition to launchingpartnerships with other major New York health systems.

DR Walk-In Medical Care's current Manhattan locations are affiliated withContinuum's St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center. Physicians at affiliatedlocations have admitting privileges at the St. Luke's-Roosevelt HospitalCenter providing patients with the opportunity to have greater access tospecialists at some of New York City's top health care facilities.

"Empire BlueCross BlueShield is pleased to partner with CHS and provide abroader range of affordable, convenient health care access to our customers,"said Mark Wagar, president and CEO of Empire BlueCross BlueShield. "Thesecenters are a helpful and complimentary addition to what is already thelargest health care network available to New Yorkers -- both locally andnationwide." Wagar also emphasized that physicians practicing at these siteswill be affiliated with major local health systems throughout New York andwill ensure optimal continuity of care for the patients they serve byutilizing an electronic medical record which can subsequently be referenced bythe patient's primary care physician.

About Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield

Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (Empire) is the trade name of EmpireHealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is thetrade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the BlueCross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Empire Blue Cross BlueShield, the largest health insurer in New York State based on PPO and HMOmembership, is a subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc. Additional information a
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