Eighteen years after losing a child to leukemia, patient rights activist Vivian Hartman found her legislative champions – Assemblywoman Luz Rivas and State Senate Joe Portantino.
SYLMAR, CA, October 16, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — This Friday 13th, Governor Newsom signed AB 847 (sponsor, Luz Rivas), titled Sophia’s Act. “My angel, my daughter Sophia, is dancing in the clouds, so proud her name is on this bill AB 847, of her momma’s work, and so happy children can go home or receive care/hospice to say goodbye,” states Vivian Hartman, founder of Sophia’s Angels, a non-profit helping families navigate the horrors of a child with cancer, how to deal with treatments, doctors, and at times, their child’s passing. “Eighteen years to the day, October 14th, we lost Sophia. We could not take Sophia home due to an insurance delay. She died in pain without her brothers, family, and friends at her side. She did not get to see the sun or play with her pup. Once AB 847 is fully funded and enacted, Sophia’s Act will assure families keep health coverage for their terminal child, no matter their family’s income, and the rights to provide hospice and palliative care. Rivas enacted what others promised.”
Hartman, a longtime resident of the San Fernando Valley, is co-owner of one of Sylmar’s hidden treasures, Buffalo Bruces Mercantile. With husband Bruce, the two run an eclectic coffee shop serving some of the Valley’s best wet-barbeque and caffeinated drinks. Life was good. That was until their youngest, Sophia, was diagnosed with leukemia.
The battle for Sophia was spiritual, brutal, and emotionally devastating, leaving the family near financial ruin. Everything was leveraged for Sophia’s care. Trying to keep the shop hopping was overwhelming. Every moment away from Sophia was torture. Vivian worked on holistic/essential oils paths to ease Sophia’s suffering. Bruce lost his outside job and medical coverage just as her health spiraled down.
“Sophia did not have to pass the way she did. A bed was ready for her at a specialized hospital, but COBRA had our payment in limbo. We couldn’t afford to transfer her. Frantic, I left Sophia’s bed to COBRA’s office and literally got on hands and knees to beg for approval. It was too late. I arrived at Sophia’s side just in time for Bruce and me to say goodbye, but not her extended family.”
During Sophia’s journey, Hartman organized bone marrow drives and cancer care seminars. After the loss of Sophia, she created a workbook to guide families through the bureaucracy of cancer and wrote a gut-wrenching Memoir. More importantly, Hartman embarked on a legislative crusade. Eighteen years later, Hartman pled with California politicians for changes to coverage, wrote letters, and received accommodations for her efforts, yet no legislation. That was until early 2023 when Hartman approached Assemblymember Luz Rivas. Finally, “no” turned to “yes.” “Rivas went for it.”
In her second term, Assemblywoman Rivas agreed to sponsor AB 847 with all protections attached. Following committee review, they sliced coverage for children, only covering those aging out of care. Hartman and Rivas fought back, “What is the point of naming a bill after Sophia, a child if it does not cover them?” Rivas and the team resubmitted the bill with the children reattached, and it was approved. AB 847, Sophia’s Act, then hit the state legislature.
Rivas and her team found little resistance to AB 847 Sophia’s Act. It swiftly moved through both state houses to the State Appropriations Committee, where it gained sponsorship from the committee’s chairperson, Senator Joe Portantino.
Senator Portantino passionately presented AB 847 to the floor (video available). The bill passed without challenge. It then went to Governor Newsom’s desk. “Every day we prayed,” stated Hartman. Then yesterday, without fanfare, Governor Newsom signed AB 847 Sophia’s Act into law.
“The battle now is to assure AB 847 Sophia’s Act receives the funding, staff, and technical support needed. Until funding is secured, kids will continue to die like Sophia, and their families will be financially devastated,” stated Hartman. “No terminally ill child should suffer unduly or die without their circle of love. It took eighteen years, but now our Sophia can soar with the angels, knowing her story gives aid and solace to families like ours. We are so grateful to Assemblywoman Rivas, her team, and Senator Portantino. Together AB 847 Sophia’s Act became a reality. Next? We go national.”
SOPHIA’S ANGELS is a 501c3 non-profit aiding families battling childhood cancer, advocating for changes in legislation and financial assistance to these families, and support for alternative care of children with terminal illnesses.
Mrs. Hartman is available immediately for in-person/location, in-studio, phone, online, Zoom interviews, or further quotes; please contact/text PR/Board member, Kimberley Joy Ferren on cell 747-232-1953 or [email protected].
To reach Assemblymember Rivas and her staff, contact her Communications Director, Annel Lopez, at her state capitol office, phone 916-319-2043.
To reach State Senator Joe Portantino and her staff, contact his Communications Director, Lerna Shirinian, at his Glendale office, phone 818-409-0400.
* Photos and other media available on request.
SOPHIA’S ANGELS is a 501c3 non-profit named after Sophia Hartman, who passed due to childhood leukemia. Sophia’s Angels aids families battling childhood cancer/terminal illness, advocates for legislation and financial assistance changes to these families, and supports alternative care of children with terminal illnesses. Vivian Hartman also conducts seminars and speaking engagements and is working to publish “A Lay Mom’s Guide to Healing Workbook” in both English and Spanish to assist families in navigating their child’s ordeals, becoming empowered with ways to ease their child’s suffering, understand medical jargon and treatments, including how to deal with medical staff and insurance.
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