Health care legislation is the cornerstone of Sara’s agenda since she first took office. Her mother, Dr. Florence Buky, had a family practice at 3355 N. Clark Street when Sara was growing up. At her mother’s side, Sara witnessed health care first-hand as Dr. Buky cared for her patients — no matter their ability to pay. Dr. Buky was one of four women to graduate U of I medical school in 1932.
These life experiences taught Sara how important health care is for all people and is why Sara views health care as a fundamental right.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
In 2018, Sara sponsored legislation addressing the opioid crisis. This legislation, SB682 , removes the need for prior authorization from insurance companies to access substance abuse treatment.
The legislation is designed to get people seeking recovery treatment immediate access and not get turned away. Studies show that immediate access to treatment improves recovery outcomes, making this a key component of combating the opioid epidemic.
Champion for Medicaid Expansion
As part of the Affordable Care Act implementation, Sara sponsored the 2013 expansion of Medicaid in Illinois. This legislation extended coverage to thousands of Illinoisans who were shut out of the health care system.
Sara understands that this expansion of Medicaid is essential in creating stable families, and saves taxpayer dollars by keeping people out of the emergency room and focusing on preventive care.
Fights for HIV/AIDS Health Care Access
Sara advocates for health care access for people living with HIV and AIDS. Sara was the chief architect of the Responsible Syringe Access Coalition, which organized the retail and pharmacy industry, AIDS Advocacy, the Illinois State Medical Society and other stakeholders to pass a Syringe Access Law aimed at stemming the spread of HIV through injection drug use. This law resulted in a 69% drop in HIV through injection drug use. Sara believes it is abhorrent that some states have reduced access to vital medication and services that those living with HIV and AIDS depend on to fight their disease. Sara fights for state funding that increases access to treatment, provides for more HIV testing, and educates the public on preventative measures.
Sara also view a woman’s right to choose as a fundamental right, and is leading the way in Springfield to expand access to critical women’s health services. Sara supports a state budget that protects funding for programs like life-saving breast cancer screenings, and is standing up to politicians who are trying to balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable.
Sara believes all Illinoisans should have access to health care regardless of their income, and she believes access to health care is a fundamental human right.
Here are a few of Sara’s accomplishments over her legislative career:
- Chief sponsor of the Expanded Community Mental Health Services Act providing Chicago communities the tools needed to address local gaps in mental health treatment via funding through front-door ballot referendum.
- Negotiated an agreement between Illinois State Medical Society and Illinois Advanced Practice Nurses for legislation that removed existing impediments to address the health care provider shortage in underserved areas in Illinois.
- Established and fostered partnerships between the state and community health sector including federally qualified health centers (C4, Howard Brown, Access Community Health and Heartland Health Systems, etc.), Illinois College of Optometry and others resulting in better care coordination for community health.
- Helped reduce the cost of at home care for seniors by redesigning the Department on Aging Community Care Program. Increased the allowable asset limit, modified the service package and created flexible spending lines to eliminate the one size fits all model. Illinois now has more elders receiving the care they need at home where they prefer to be, and at 25 percent of the cost of institutionalization.
- Helped the Edwin Feldman Development Center at Illinois Masonic design an early intervention home and community based autism treatment program (the Puentes Project) resulting in hundreds of children successfully transitioning into mainstream classrooms at minimal cost.
- Drafted and passed a transformative law addressing Institutes for Mental Disease (IMD’s) warehousing model into a SMURF recovery model to transition post-acute patients with mental illness in crisis towards independence with coordinated support from community providers, housing initiatives and wraparound services.