Life can be challenging for older adults; living on fixed incomes, rising costs of living, and all sorts of day-to-day complications present daily hurdles for senior citizens. Sara listens to them carefully and hears them loud and clear. Most importantly, Sara is committed to improving the lives of older adults of the 12th district.
Sara led the fight to expand the state’s Community Care Program, a cost-effective program that provides in-home healthcare services to low-income seniors. She also passed legislation that addresses the disparity in Illinois’ long-term care and choices. Older Illinoisans want choice in their care and most would prefer to stay home rather than enter a nursing home. This legislation requires the Department on Aging to contract with community-based agencies to provide community reintegration assistance within the first 60 days that a senior has been admitted to a nursing facility. This bill will help ensure that seniors are living in the least restrictive setting and keep them in their homes if at all possible.
Sara fights to end age-based discrimination, an issue particularly vital to older working senior citizens. She is currently sponsoring legislation (House Bill 5047) to eliminate the Social Security offset in Illinois, which prevents working seniors from collecting full unemployment benefits if they are on Social Security; Illinois is currently one of only two states that still employs a Social Security unemployment offset.
With her sponsorship, support and the passage of the legislation creating civil unions in Illinois, senior citizens are expected to be the most numerous benefactors of civil unions. Many seniors who receive survivor’s Social Security or pension benefits choose to not remarry because they would lose these benefits; entering in to a civil union with a partner allows them the same hospital visitation and medical decision rights as a married couple, but without the financial loss.
Sara also fought for higher wages for home healthcare workers because these dedicated and wonderful individuals should be supported in their tireless work for our seniors.
Sara was instrumental in authoring and passing significant nursing home reform, which came as a response to reports of nursing home abuse throughout the state. The new law strengthens the admissions and screening process (including comprehensive criminal background checks), increases staffing ratios, transfers patients with a serious mental illness out of nursing homes and into community programs, and toughens penalties for violations.