By Michael Ervin

President Obama was right to defend Medicaid from the Republican ax.

In his speech on Wednesday, April 13, Obama denounced the Republican "vision that says up to 50 million Americans have to lose their health insurance in order for us to reduce the deficit."

The Americans he was talking about included millions of people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid.

Obama was responding to the plan put forth by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to restructure Medicaid as block grants.

Medicaid is an entitlement program, meaning those who qualify are guaranteed a minimum level of coverage for medical services. State and federal governments share the cost of paying for these services.

But under block grants, there would be no minimum level of coverage. States would receive a fixed amount of federal money each year to spend as they see fit. And that fixed amount would not be enough to cover everyone who needs it.

On April 4, 17 governors sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders. The letter, initiated by Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, says, "We need federal policy that creates cost savings, not cost shifting."

The letter also says, "A Medicaid block grant imposed unilaterally by Congress on all states that would cap the federal government's share of costs and provide fixed annual funding below the projected growth of program costs is simply unacceptable."

It's simple math. With the federal government capping what it contributes, states would have to pick up the rest of the tab, whatever it might be. This will obviously leave state governments, the letter states, with "an untenable choice between increasing taxes, cutting other state programs, or cutting eligibility, benefits or provider payments."

People with disabilities who can't live without the support we receive from Medicaid are correct to fear what will happen if Ryan succeeds. Our assistance will quite possibly be cut off or severely curtailed. At the very least, we will be forced to pay out-of-pocket costs far beyond what we can afford.

Ryan and the Republicans don't appear to give a hoot about what happens to people with disabilities who depend on Medicaid. Obama needs to keep making the case for Medicaid, and the Democrats in Congress need to stand up to this onslaught.

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

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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

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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