Congressional leaders should not be looking to finance health care reform on the backs of people with disabilities.

But the legislation being considered by the Senate would cut $43 billion from spending on Medicare home health services over 10 years, while the House bill would cut $55 billion.

President Obama, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and others defend these cuts by saying that they will merely reduce fraud and waste in the program and not adversely affect the quality or amount of care given to recipients.

That’s nonsense.

To believe this one would have to believe that as health care costs skyrocket, Medicare funding can simultaneously be reduced for a decade — and those who depend on Medicare home health won’t notice any difference.

This simply doesn’t add up. And I’ve heard it all before.

Governors in many states have tried to fill budget craters by chopping similar home care assistance programs for people with disabilities. The perpetrators always say that even with less money, everyone will continue to receive the help they need.

In actuality, people do suffer. Many can no longer afford their home health providers and are forced to enter nursing homes.

Politicians seem to think that those who depend on publicly funded assistance to live healthy lives at home are politically powerless. We’re regarded as invisible shut-ins.

In horrid economic times like these, the impulse of public officials is to make those who can least fight back make the most sacrifices. Medicare home health recipients are an easy target, as long as the assault is done behind the noble shield of eliminating fraud and waste. But that shield itself is a fraud.

We must demand that our elected officials preserve Medicare funding for home health services. We can’t let them get away with this cruel cut.

Mike Ervin is a Chicago-based writer and a disability-rights activist with ADAPT ( He can be reached at

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

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).

Public School Shakedown

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