On March 18, 2019, New Jersey Governor Murphy signed and enacted Senate Bill Number 2773 , which clarifies the definitions of Health Care Service Firms and Homemaker-Home Health Aides. The bill was primarily sponsored by Senator Nellie Pou and was unanimously passed by the New Jersey Senate and Assembly. According to Senator Pou, “[t]his bill will ensure that all firms acting as health care agencies for our elderly, including the ones using the Internet to arrange and provide companions or health care services are properly registered. We need to ensure that adequate care is provided with registered and qualified caregivers at all times.” Health Care Service Firms are closely regulated by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Part of the regulation provides that these firms are required to provide comprehensive training, supervision and oversight to their caregivers who must be directly employed by the firm. In May 21, 2018 New Jersey passed legislation requiring Health Care Service Firms to become accredited by an accrediting body recognized by the New Jersey Department of Human Services and to submit to an audit conducted by a certified public accountant.
The recently enacted bill revises the previous law to clarify that any firm, company, business, agency or other entity that is not licensed by New Jersey as a Home Health Care Agency or Hospice which employs, places or arranges for the placement of or in any way refers an individual to provide companion, personal or health care services in the personal residence of a person with a disability or who is 60 years old or older, must register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs as a Health Care Service Firm. The bill further stipulates that the Division of Consumer Affairs is authorized to take enforcement measures upon any person who operates a firm that is subject to this Health Care Service Firm registration requirement, whether the operations include the direct employment of individuals, the use of an Internet website or application, or any other process or business model.
In addition, the bill imposes a penalty of $500 per day, for each day that the person continues to operate a firm without registering as a health care service firm as required.
Finally, the bill clarifies that Homemaker-Home Health Aides as defined by the new law must work under the supervision of a duly licensed registered professional nurse, provided by the home care services agency that directly employs the Homemaker-Home Health Aide when following a delegated nursing regimen. Homemaker-Home Health Aides may not work independently. The ultimate impact of this legislation will depend upon the extent of the enforcement actions taken by NJ regulators.
Currently, there are more than 1,000 registered Health Care Service Firms that operate in New Jersey. However, there are also numerous business and individuals that are not properly registered as required by the new law and are unlawfully arranging for or directly providing companion care, personal care and health care services in person’s homes, assisted living facilities and other settings. For more information on the regulation of home care services and how to register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, please contact our office. The regulatory landscape surrounding home health care services is extremely complex and constantly changing. Thus, it is recommended to contact an attorney to ensure regulatory compliance.