Monday Letters: City let down former firefighters, paramedics

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Sun-Times Library

With the ringing in of another new year usually comes a fuzzy feeling of renewed hope. For some 30,000 retired City of Chicago workers, however, the arrival of Jan. 1 brought with it the stark reality that they no longer have the health care coverage that they were promised when they were hired decades ago. It is truly a sad time in the history of this great city.

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The retired firefighters and paramedics we represent risked their lives each day throughout their careers to protect Chicago’s citizens. Many suffered severe and debilitating injuries and illnesses directly linked to their public service. Now, in their time of need, the city has chosen let them become someone else’s responsibility.

A previous court settlement had split the cost of a retiree’s health care coverage three ways; the retiree, the retiree’s pension fund and the City of Chicago would all contribute to pay premiums. Sounds fair, doesn’t it? But Mayor Rahm Emanuel had other ideas. Even though this plan of “shared sacrifice” was in practice for decades, the city decided it wanted to “get out of the retiree health care business” altogether. These elders have now been left to fend for themselves. Many of these affected, including widows in their 80s and some in their 90s, are already living near the poverty level. Some no longer have the mental capacity to understand what is happening to them. Others are being forced to consider going back to work. Realistically, who will want to hire them? In others words, Chicago helped balance its budget by kicking former public servants to the curb. Nice.

Chicago calls itself a sanctuary city; a place where people can come to feel safe and secure. I guess that’s true just as long as you’re not one of these unfortunate former employees.

Tom Ryan, president

Chicago Firefighters Union Local 2

Take a stand

What’s striking about the case of the four individuals who tortured the special-needs young man was the reluctance of witnesses to come forward to cooperate with police. Such fear is too common in the black community, and this makes it impossible to end violence in it. We must take a stand against thugs who terrorize, and let them know it no longer can be done with impunity.

Hosea L. Martin, Bronzeville

Tell our representatives

Medicare came about through the courage and foresight of legislatures of the 1960s. to assure that the elderly will have medical care access and affordable as well. Then, later, the blind, and disabled as well. Like any new program, it takes time to come to a human perfection, like the Affordable Care Act of 2009, implemented in 2014. The alternative, if there really is one, but yet to be detailed, may fall back into our old health care systems: no pre-existing conditions, no subsidies, or tax credits, etc. Perhaps, instead of presenting an opposing one, why not form a viable one for the people, of the people, by the people? Let us tell all our representatives.

Angelo Sturino, Park Ridge

Despicable opposition

Any Republican who campaigned against the Affordable Care Act these past eight years is despicable.

Whatever defects the ACA has pail in comparison to the benefits they’ve provided the 20 million covered by it. They pail in comparison to the 50,000 lives the ACA has demonstrably saved. They pail in comparison the the 300 other million of us who feel gratitude our government provided some relief to the least fortunate, medically speaking, among us.

Whatever defects the ACA has are the result of these despicable lawmakers who devoted every penny of their political capital to prevent any health care coverage for the uninsured, or improve the coverage for the insured. They are the result of these despicable lawmakers who forced Democrats to enact less than what was required, single payer Medicare for all, then, despicably sought its repeal because of those despicably engineered defects.

It’s not uncommon for an uninformed Republican voter to tell me “Obamacare is horrible and must be repealed.” My answer? “If up to you, 50,000 of your fellow citizens would be dead. Shame on you.”

Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn

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