Regarding the Sept. 10 editorial, "Home-care 'companions'/Oversight needed":

The Home Health Services and Staffing Association of New Jersey has serious concerns with this proposed home-care licensing legislation. Representing more than 250 licensed home-care companies, we agree more needs to be done to protect New Jersey's elderly patients. But the proposed legislation will do nothing to protect New Jersey's seniors and will hamper the ability of reputable companies to provide cost-effective, quality care.

Accreditation, while costly, does not provide patient protection. These third-party entities have no power to inspect or enforce penalties for violations. More than a half-dozen accredited companies have recently been found guilty of fraud, yet these firms continued to meet accreditation standards and receive renewals from the Commission on Accreditation for Home Care.

Another burden presented by this bill is the extensive audit requirement for all home-care firms, which is estimated at $15,000 to $30,000 per year. Private firms that do not receive government funds would be required to pay for this expensive audit. This overreaching mandate would pose a significant financial burden and would have no impact on the quality of care or the protection of the consumer.

Additional financial burdens on these companies will put companion-care services out of reach for elderly citizens, with nursing homes as the only resort. New Jersey should follow the model of 17 other states and implement licensing standards that reflect tiered levels of care and enforce criminal penalties for those who willingly violate the law.

JEAN BESTAFKA

CEO

Home Health Services

and Staffing Association

Manchester Township