Why did retired teacher Roberta Rebb die the Sunday before Christmas?

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-Ken Previti blogs at Reclaim Reform where this post first appeared.

Roberta Rebb was a genuinely good person and an excellent teacher who had taken early retirement for health reasons. Most people ask how old she was or what disease she died from. It is most important in Roberta’s life to ask why she died on the Sunday before Christmas.

I blogged one of my friend Roberta’s emails to me with her permission while withholding her name at her request. It seems reasonable now to re-post her email and my blog to allow us all to see what the assault against retired teachers, and so many other victims of political crimes, have caused or worsened. Roberta simply tells the truth about what she was subjected to.

(Friends and fellow bloggers have filled in even more details about Roberta. From Fred Klonsky. From Glen Brown with a comment by John Dillon.)

Below is Roberta’s email and my commentary from October 25, 2015. You decide why Roberta died specifically on the Sunday before Christmas.

Dear Friends,

I just wanted you all to know how [IL Gov. Bruce] Rauner’s unconstitutional act of not providing a signed budget has affected me at my most vulnerable.   As you all know, my cancer returned this past summer and I am forced to undergo more chemotherapy which is an exhausting ordeal.  I was informed this week that my doctor could no longer treat me, despite my paying my premiums and Cigna approving 100% payment the State of Illinois could no longer make payments and has informed my doctor’s office that it would take over a year to process his invoices.  I will now have to drive 37 miles one way for treatment at Rush University which is still accepting my insurance.  With winter approaching and the exhaustion following the treatments, I will have to once again impose on friends or The American Cancer Society to get me to Chicago and back home again.

Something needs to be done about a governor holding the legislature and its citizens hostage so that he can destroy collective bargaining rights and tromp on workers’ rights.  I thank you all for your continued advocacy and willingness to fight for those of us who cannot do so.

With gratitude,
(Name withheld by request) [Roberta Rebb]

Because of a political power battle between Gov. Rauner (R) and 30+ year Speaker of the House Madigan (D), the state is not paying its bills and has no signed budget. The governor has decided to hold innocent people hostage by refusing to sign a budget which includes people under state healthcare contracts.

The immediate results are savage cuts to special education children and their families, homeless people, and my friend who has spent her entire adult life as a career teacher dedicated to serving the best interests of the children under her care. My friend must also place her mother in a nursing home because she is no longer strong enough to care for her.

Yes, there are many more people suffering as both billionaire Gov. Rauner and multimillionaire  Speaker Madigan continue immense tax cuts for their billionaire cronies and donors. Tax cuts for corporate wealth continue and actual grants of tax money pour out to corporate interests. The state government may actually be closed down. The political battle is potentially deadly – especially for the innocent victims who are the collateral damage of this War of Corruption (corruption called government) in Illinois.

These political torturers have created the possibility of a public revolt, a revolt that could easily get out of control. The suffering is spreading, and most people are either affected or know someone who is.

The War of Threats must end.
The War of Abuse and Neglect must end.
The War of Suffering must end.
The War of Corruption must end.

*Addendum: 

For those who do not know, Illinois teachers were required to pay 9.4% of their gross income into the state’s pension fund, and teachers were not allowed to pay into Social Security or Medicare with their own salaries. Active and retired teachers (from salary and pension checks) were also required to pay additional money for their state healthcare. [Retirees pay thousands of dollars per year from their pensions for the state mandated healthcare programs.]

In spite of what the Chicago Tribune claims, even the president of the IL Senate admits teacher pension funds are not even close to being a catastrophic problem. The IL Supreme Court also stated this in a ruling against pension theft attempts. [The state mandated healthcare programs are also being used as political tools.]

One thought on “Why did retired teacher Roberta Rebb die the Sunday before Christmas?

  1. I read the TRS retired health insurance for fy16 was paid, (a year behind). It was included in the k-12 state funding. This year Rauner has presented a k-12 state funding with TRS retired health insurance crossed out entirely. Zero dollars. Rauner’s actions will cause many TRS retirees to not have access to the medical coverage they have earned. A new low, but what we have come to expect from Rauner.

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