By Anonymous (not verified) on March 03, 2010

As someone with a disability, I should be excited about President Obama’s health plan and motivated to fight for it to become law. But I’m not.

The proposal contains important elements that could improve the lives of many disabled Americans. But the thrust of the overall proposal seems so wrongheaded that passing it as is may do more harm than good in the long run.

The president included potentially significant initiatives designed to make it easier for disabled Americans who need daily assistance to remain in their homes and communities and avoid institutionalization. The Community First Choice option in the president’s plan would offer state governments more money from Medicaid to fund in-home support programs for Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities who need long-term care.

Funds would also be given to states to extend an ambitious program called the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration. Its purpose is to help Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities who need long-term care “transition from an institutional to a community setting,” according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

There’s also a provision called the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act (CLASS Act). It creates a much-needed alternative long-term funding source besides Medicaid. After paying into a pool for a certain number of years through voluntary payroll deductions, working people who become disabled could receive a monthly benefit to help pay for whatever new assistance or equipment they might need.

It would be great if these ideas could become law through legislation not tied to the president’s larger health care financing agenda. The centerpiece of that plan is forcing Americans to purchase health insurance through the predatory private market with no public option as an alternative. In addition, Obama’s plan envisions cutting tens of billions of dollars from Medicare home health services.

So despite the benefits for persons with disabilities, I can’t bring myself to embrace the president’s full proposal. The collateral damage will be too great.

Mike Ervin is a writer and disability activist living in Chicago. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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