New Jersey: Lift providers stave off elevator law

Friday, August 24, 2012

TRENTON, N.J. – HME providers in New Jersey have negotiated an amendment to a bill that should keep them from needing elevator contractor licenses to provide chair lifts and stair lifts.

Earlier this year, providers learned that a proposed bill that would require licensure by a state board to install elevators, escalators and moving sidewalks would also apply to them.

“If the bill were allowed to go through with its original wording, we would be forced to hire a union certified installer,” said Bob Miller, president and CEO of Hackettstown-based Bachs Home Health Care Supply. “That would have increased our costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per unit. The price would have been out of the range of most of our customers and it would have reduced our market by half.”

The amendment states: “No such license shall be required for any person who installs, constructs, alters, maintains, services, repairs, or tests, a chair lift device or stair lift device in a dwelling unit.”

The bill, had it not been amended, would have forced other providers to throw in the towel.

“Requiring a contractor license would put a stop to the few stair lifts we do sell,” said Paul Reses, co-owner of Pleasantville-based Lincoln Medical Supply.

But the fight isn’t quite over. Wendy Russalesi, executive director of the Jersey Association of Medical Equipment Services (JAMES), would like to improve the wording of the amendment before the bill is finalized. 

“None of the terms in the new language are clearly defined and may in the future be subject to a very strict interpretation by the Elevator, Escalator, and Moving Walkway Contractors Licensing Board,” she said.

Providers are right to fight the bill tooth and nail, says Jerry Keiderling, president of Accessible Home Improvement of America, a division of The VGM Group. States with similar requirements in place have kept patients from getting the stair lifts they need. 

“It really restricts access for consumers and doubles the price,” he said.