Over the weekend we lost a dear friend. Rob Restuccia was a hero in every sense of the word. We at CHIR are so proud to have known and worked with him over the years, because no one else was a greater champion for the voiceless. He dedicated his life to improving access to affordable, comprehensive health care, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.
Rob lost a 6-month battle with pancreatic cancer but along the way never gave up his fight for health equity and justice, even penning this op-ed calling for universal health care just days before his death. The two organizations he founded, Health Care for All and Community Catalyst, are testaments to his vision that consumer voices and action can bring about positive policy change. There have been very few health reform efforts in Massachusetts or Washington, DC that don’t bear his imprint. Rob and his team have consistently brought strategic acumen, community organizing, and serious policy chops to reforms such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Massachusetts’ own health expansion, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). More recently, Rob’s leadership was critical to the coalition effort that successfully beat back legislation to repeal the ACA.
In Rob, we lost not just a health care leader. We lost a friend. Rob was a man of incredible warmth and empathy. He immediately put strangers at ease with his lack of ego and genuine interest in their work and lives. He inspired colleagues with his passion for health care justice. He was kind.
In his life and work, Rob epitomized the George Bernard Shaw quote: “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” Rob’s purpose was mighty. Let his example inspire us all.