Rob Restuccia Passes The Torch

February 25th, 2019 by Tom Lynch

Every once in a while in life, if you’re lucky, you’ll come to know and work with a person whose commitment to service, whose dedication to justice, whose devotion to helping the less fortunate among us live full and healthy lives is both humbling and inspirational. For me, such a person has been Rob Restuccia.

Rob is a founder of Health Care For All and Community Catalyst. Health Care For All was instrumental in making Massachusetts a first-in-the-nation model of near-universal health coverage in 2006, and Community Catalyst played a vital role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and its successful defense against repeal in 2017.

Since late-2003, Rob and I have served together on the Board of Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA), a Massachusetts HMO serving dual-eligible beneficiaries, meaning they qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. They are the sickest of the sick and the poorest of the poor, and they represent about 5% of the nation’s population, but consume 35% to 40% of our health care costs. As a founding Board member, Rob has been a constant north star to staying true to our mission. He is one of the reasons CCA has been the highest rated plan of its kind in the nation for each of the last two years. But much more than that, Rob is one of the reasons tens of millions in this country now have health insurance and no longer have to face impending disaster because they cannot afford the health care they need.

Now, Rob is dying.  Five months ago he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a terrible disease. The cancer was too advanced for surgery. He tried chemotherapy, but that was unsuccessful. So, he has chosen to seek the highest quality of the life that remains, not the greatest quantity.

Today, the Boston Globe ran an op-ed by Rob. It is his farewell, his swan song, and it is beautiful. It is also a clarion call to continue the battle for universal health care, the kind every other developed nation on earth has, except America. It is a call that we treat health care as a basic, human right, not a privilege. If you do nothing else today, please read Rob’s articulate and rational argument for the cause to which he has devoted his life. In the article, he writes, “Though I will not live to see it, I am convinced the march toward universal, affordable, equitable, quality health care is unstoppable. The next generation of advocacy leaders will continue the work I leave unfinished.”

We will all be poorer with the passing of Rob Restuccia, whose entire, all too brief life has been dedicated to service to others. We can learn much from this brilliant and accomplished icon, both in the way he’s lived, and now in the way he’s dying.

Tags: health policy