Pou Legislation To Protect Seniors And Disabled Residents By Expanding Licensure Requirements For Health Care Service Firms Advances

Measure Would Require Providers of Companion Services To Obtain Accreditation

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou that would require health care service firms that provide in-home companion services for senior citizens or disabled residents to obtain licensure and accreditation was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee.

“Residents place an enormous amount of trust in health care providers, and all senior citizens and individuals with disabilities deserve the confidence of knowing that their in-home aides are properly licensed to administer care,” said Senator Pou, D-Passaic and Bergen. “By extending accreditation and audit requirements to providers of companion services, this bill will increase oversight of the health care industry and protect the safety of all New Jersey residents.”

The bill, S-2100, would expand the definition of a health care service firm to include firms that provide companion services – non-medical, basic supervision and socialization services that do not include direct physical contact with the individual – exclusively in the residence of a person with a disability or senior citizen 60 years of age or over. As a result, the bill would require providers of companion services to be licensed as health care service firms by the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety. Under current law, providers of companion services are not subject to any accreditation or licensure requirements.

In addition, the bill would require that all health care service firms, as a condition of licensure, obtain accreditation within 12 months of licensure from an entity recognized by the Commissioner of Human Services as an accrediting body for homemaker agencies participating in the Medicaid program. Lastly, it would require all health care service firms to undergo a thorough compliance and financial audit by a qualified certified public accountant.

“Recent reports of Medicaid fraud and the placement of uncertified aides in patients’ homes have demonstrated a need to take a closer look at in-home companion service providers,” said Senator Pou. While these firms have been able to fly under the radar and avoid licensing requirements, it is time to close this loophole, so that patients have the guarantee of high-quality care. This legislation is about promoting fiscal transparency and holding all health care firms to the same standards.”

The Committee approved the legislation by a vote of 10-2. It now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.

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