Shulkin Says Get Rid Of VA Optometry, There Is A ‘LensCrafters On Every Corner’

91

VA Optometry

Behind closed doors, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, MD, suggested his VA healthcare directors get rid of optometry and audiology services.

What is the background of this proposed change?

Shulkin’s team is coming up with new ways VA can shrink while still providing veterans with timely access to healthcare either at VA or in the community. The savings from not providing optometry and audiology services, but instead farming those out to Community Care, could then be used to update struggling VA facilities.

At least, that is the argument put forth by the Secretary and his team last week.

Using this gimmick, VACO is basically encouraging directors to commit budgetary misallocations by using Choice, when VA should not, to cover optometry and audiology appointments. Then, those directors are also being told to use the money earmarked for optometry to cover facility repairs even though the cost savings will be mooting by the higher price charged in the private market.

One director shocked by the Secretary’s suggestion reached out to me last week to provide direct quotes and other information about the conference held in Leesburg, Virginia.

VA was contacted about the quote a week ago but did not provide comment before publication today.

‘LensCrafters On Every Corner’

In a closed-door meeting with his VA healthcare directors from across the nation, Shulkin suggested VA should stop providing veterans with audiology and optometry appointment.

This surprised many in attendance because audiology and optometry services are two of the most requested and most economical for VA to provided.

According to the insider:

[Secretary Shulkin] told directors in Leesburg VA today that we should get rid of audiology and optometry since there are “LensCrafters on every corner”. As I said there are our most popular veteran requested service and we do it economically. Veterans receive state of the art hearing aids that cost $5000 in the private sector. VA gets them for substantially less.  If you send patients to private audiologist you would loose all control what quality device they get. You’ve never heard a veteran complain about the quality of their eating aids. 

Shulkin Works Around Congress

The insider indicated Shulkin is forcing directors to play a game of hide the pea while failing to seek approval from Congress for the proposal and not giving directors enough funds to adequately repair older facilities.

In a given year, some facilities may get $30 million for their operating budget when they really need $200 million to operate and repair dangerous environmental or operations hazards.

This forces directors like our insider to choose between fixing boilers used to sterilize surgical equipment or making repairs to prevent Legionella.

The longer I cover VA scandals, the more apparent the issue is becoming concerning veteran safety. Directors are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils all the time when it comes to safety.

And, whenever we hear a scandal, that is a case when the director guessed wrong.

Basically, the inside baseball looks more like VA Central Office (VACO) calling the shots without really being taken to task. Those calls by VACO are then passed through the VISN, these are the networks responsible for many hospitals and community-based clinics.

According to the insider, the Washington DC VA Hospital that recently made headlines for horrible processing of supplies needed to provide care for veterans was a victim of VACO incompetence. Someone in VACO picked a bad vendor, and the local hospital director was caught trying to make up the difference.

Now, we see one of Shulkin’s solutions to create cost savings for his new boss, President Donald Trump. To meet the requirements of the White House mandate to shrink each agency, massive cuts will need to be made.

But how can these cuts happen while the spotlight is shining on VA after Trump promised such grandiose solutions? Easy, the cuts all occur behind the scenes.

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Crazy elf
Crazy elf

“Lens Crafters” doesn’t do what I need for my eye problems.
Does Lens Crafters have opthalmologists on duty? If NOT, then I’m screwed!

Crazy elf
Crazy elf
I just googled “LensCrafters” in my county. The nearest one to me is over 30 miles away! I guess having “…one on every corner…..”, as “Shithead Shulkin” says, is pure unadulterated BULLSHIT! I’m also NOT sure if they have opthalmologists on duty. Which is, due to a service connected disability, what I need! Here’s some questions——- What if VA doesn’t pay the bill on time? Will I be screwed by having my credit rating be lowered? Will they turn over the unpaid bill to a collection agency as has happened to many veterans, over using outside medical facilities? Will that… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

@Crazy elf- The VA Rule “As A Crow Flies” only applies to Lenscrafter locations within same 40 mile radius but the crow must be minimally 70% blind and of course, able to fly with Lenscrafter lenses (crow collective sponsorship)

Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson

You’re nailing the wrong villain, @Crazy Elf. Trump’s your enemy, and needs to go.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Why? Because they are easy targets for Shulkin and there will be no public uproar.

The public, those not completely engrossed watching Oprah will think it’s a great thing that vets can quickly go down the street for glasses or hearing aides once their overfunded PR machine spins it.

Why not fire those interior designers?

The silver lining in this Crazy Elf is that if you did go to an outside opthamalogist, you might get proper care.

DV
DV

And fuck you krause. YOU recommended trump………..the village idiot!

Eye have optic nerve damage from military serve and MUST have an ophthalmologist. Big bucks for one of those and that may be the asholes’ target for extinction at the va.

91Veteran
91Veteran

Yeah, that thieving old gag would have been so much better for us.

She let 4 guys die in an event that got world wide attention and then lied repeatedly about it. Do you really think she would give a shit about your eyes?

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

@DV,
Do you think you would have been better off with Hillary “The Butcher of Benghazi” Clinton?
This B/S by Shulkin was being done “behind closed doors” in a “private meeting”!

I too am being screwed over by “Shithead Shulkin” and whoever else was present at that meeting.

I’m on two prescription meds for my eyes. Right now I’m waiting to see if I’ll need surgery!
Of course I don’t want anyone at VA to do the surgery. I’d rather go to a REPUTABLE opthalmologist for it!
As far as I’m concerned, the VHA’s in my area aren’t qualified to take out the trash!
That’s my opinion!

Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran
Good article, Ben. @DV – – – Trump is FAR, FAR Better than the alternative would have been. Interesting how legions were willing to give POTUS Obama a “Free Pass” for a while on the mess that he inherited – – – yet those same folks are NOT willing to do the same for POTUS Trump. Cutting Audiology and Optometry services to veterans is NOT the answer. Getting veterans the healthcare they were promised and need is. How do we do that? It is fairly simple. FIX THE DAMN BROKEN VA: 1. Expedite implementing the HOLMAN RULE. 2. Recognize the… Read more »
Dennis
Dennis
Let me explain how back assward this idea is for cutting costs in terms of how a private sector business is run. In private industry there are good times and bad. VA is running up against bad times budget wise. Private industry also has to choose the way they will stay in business. They can choose to cut services to customers, or not. They can choose to raise prices, or not. They can decide to expand to different markets, or not. They can choose to cut expenses like wages paid, or not. Only one of those plans has EVER kept… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Why not eliminate at least half of the full time union thugs first?

I cannot fathom a doctor with supposedly years of training in his chosen profession choosing instead to do union work full time.

Eliminate any full time union work by anyone above GS11, and get rid of at least half of them.

Or hell, get rid of every one of them. The AFGE likely rips off enough dues from every employee every paycheck, use some of that stash to hire their own representatives rather than paying the donut bill for Little Cox.

Gretchen R
Gretchen R

Email David Shulkin directly and tell him what you think at David.Shulkin at va.gov. All the top VA brass have at va.gov email addressees.

Eliminating optometry and audiology services within VA is just plain stupid and PR nonsense.

Dennis
Dennis

Emailing ANY cabinet level official has only a vert slight statistical chance of being acted upon over and above what any ordinary letter sent by First Class Mail to the North Pole. Santa maintains an address there, sure, but this is only for appearances sake. Just like VA.

…and the Vets all went back to their beds, with dreams of sugar plums dancing in their heads….

namnibor
namnibor

My sugar plumbs dancing look suspiciously like a engorged VA Purple Team dancing. Night Terrors really suck.

Jo3n

I’m about twenty miles from the nearest Lens Crafters. It’s not on a corner. I see an ophthalmologist, Lens Crafters doesn’t. There’s no transparency anywhere in our Government. Especially the VA. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the word being said by any of our leaders since they got in office. God Bless the Veterans and their families.

namnibor
namnibor
It’s really no wonder at all that the VA would not think twice and eliminate eye and hearing care. Why? Because they all have their heads so far up their asses they cannot see nor hear anything but their insatiable desire for receiving more for ever doing even less. Why is it anyone on State Medicaid/Welfare, and that includes political refugees here in USA can have full dental, eye, and ear and everything else…even completely free if income is within limits, but we Veterans are constantly having either our benefits cut, farmed-out, sold, mismanaged, and we’re all supposed to continue… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

“TIME IS UP TRUMP” kind of has a ring to it…

Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson

There you go!

91Veteran
91Veteran

June 20th. Trumps time is up.

OLDMARINE
OLDMARINE

“fullcircleproject.net”

js
js

To herd cats, you must have a carrot on a stick, or maybe a rat by the tail, no?

Dennis
Dennis
Being service connected for tinnitus and hearing where would a veteran go for that service connected condition? Is the VA going to pay for that when the condition worsens? Will I get stuck with a bill from lenscrafters and possibly seeing my credit ruined because VA is slow paying or not paying at all? Hell, maybe Shulkin is planning to build solar paneled parking lots with that money he’ll save at the expense of vets and he can put on a tin foil hat and wear it while standing in line at Disney world. I just read where Obummer did… Read more »
Dennis
Dennis
As one Dennis to another let me answer your question; when the VA shoves a vet into Choice program without meeting congressional Choice program requirements (as Roseburg did with me to rid me from them) the VA will not pay. As a matter of fact, the Choice program fiasco has now been shoved upon so many and so many vets have been starnded by VA with enormous unpaid bills, that VA had to create a brand new office JUST to assist vets with attempting to repair bad credit from unpaid medical bills that the godamn VA shoved onto the shoulders… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor
What comes next is the VA hack office hired to help fix the damaged credit from VA not paying their bills because of Choice, is the VA hack then acquires that Vet’s social security and bank routing number and the rest comes in form of once the Veteran makes a police report of identity theft, then the VA will again “help” by canning the Vet with a VA appointed fiduciary to screw them even more until day they die. The never ending circle jerk. Not to be confused with the never ending gobstopper, although both can occur in same instance,… Read more »
Baldy56
Baldy56
One way they are going to pay the debt, is off of the veterans backs. # times in the last 10 years, i receive a letter from VA comp saying i have been overpaid and they are going to have to reduce my pay. The last time they did this they claimed a VA Form had never been signed when I retired in 1996. Being the pack-rat i am, I searched my files and found the form, and – Holy Crap Batman – it was signed by both my wife and I!!. I sent a copy to the VA with… Read more »
SgtRay
In this modern day age we live in, we enjoy many forms of. communications We have come a long way from the days the Indians used Smoke Signals and Tom Toms. Western Union used the Telegraph. With each generation, new forms of communications have been invented. We can talk on a telephone to anyone in the world. We get instantaneous Video of events around the world as they happen. President Trump recently talked with the crew on board the NASA Space Lab as it orbited the world at an unbelievable speed. At the same time, we were watching the crew… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Unfortunately the only kind of communication talking in DC is money, and we veterans are not included on that channel.

In fact, our channel is a dead hum on the line.

As for the media, we will only be noticed when they run out of Russian boogeyman to go after. And illegal alien boogeyman. And refugee boogeyman. And Obamacare boogeyman.

And after the Kardashians finally die from silicone poisoning.

namnibor
namnibor

@91Veteran–Yep, I just gurgled coffee from uncontained laughter. But I think it would be more like the silicone getting poisoned by the Kardashian host ass.

Jo3n
Veterans are proud. I was. A lifetime of the VA has wounded my pride immensely. Not a good feeling. I admit to having hope, again. I’m not sure just how many times the VA is going to let me down. Until, I fight back. Thankfully, Trump has seen to it that guns can be bought at most flea markets. I agree that disabled Veterans in a herd, would be like herding cats. At least we would be going somewhere. I have no clue as who is to blame. Someone is to blame. Remember, if Veterans go against Trump, Trump will… Read more »
Robert Wilson

Harsh! But accurate.

Dennis
Dennis
The question of “who” is to blame is simple to answer but you might not like the truth; We The People are to blame, and We The People are the solution. In order to form a more perfect union, to establish peace and domestic tranquility, ordained and established a Constitution. We The People have allowed the same kind of thugs and misfits bastardize that sacred document that the founders of our country fled from, because the fleas come with the dog and government is the biggest dog their is. We The People have accepted business as usual at the most… Read more »
Crazy elf
Crazy elf
@Dennis, The first three words in today’s blog is, quote: “Behind closed doors…”! That’s the problem. All of “Shithead Shulkin’s” bullshit is being accomplished “behind closed doors!” The union, “Shithead Shulkin, the VSO’s, a couple of veterans (who are probably hand picked by the VSO’s) and a couple of SES’rs are behind everything being done at all VA’s nationwide. Now, what would be their underlying motive for cutting back on certain VBA and VHA employees? In my opinion – “MONEY!” And lots of it! This new budget, passed recently, gives the VA $182 BILLION of taxpayers monies to VA. The… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

Today’s “Bad VA Art” of Benjamin’s is not an eye Dr. at all…that’s one of the VA’s experimental Borg patient advocates. “Resistance is futile…”

91Veteran
91Veteran
I dunno Ben. Cuts behind the scenes? If Trump gave the order for agencies to downsize, I can’t believe it is Trump or his WH micromanaging who is deciding where in the agency that will happen. More of this makes sense though now that you mention that downsize order. It explains why Shulkin would go after the least staffed clinics in a hospital. How many people work in an audio clinic? How many people work in the optometry clinic? Getting rid of both allows Shulkin to claim he downsized. It doesn’t matter what. I’m sure he also thought, “what’s the… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

It sure has been raining shit sandwiches as of late.

91Veteran
91Veteran

They are so obvious they are like meteors flaming through the sky before hitting.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf

91Veteran,
I wonder what the union is going to say, and do, about this bullcrap!?

91Veteran
91Veteran

I’m sure they will try squeeze any concession possible.

And when that doesn’t work, ignore those members that are laid off.

But they will likely get an agreement that those members eliminated get first dibs on jobs elsewhere.

Which means, the incompetent that are used to being shuffled around after screwing up will jump at the chance to move elsewhere.

js
js

Less expense from maintenance, Hearing and Eye care, the more money to increase salaries for unions and Sr Executives who want quarter million dollar moving expense authorizations.

Crazy elf
Crazy elf
For anyone who has a disparaging word about President Trump. Might I remind y’all, “NO ONE WANTED THE SECRETARY OF VA JOB!” The ones who would have “made a difference” said “NO!” And, they said it loud and clear! That being said, we veterans got an “government asswipe lacky insider” to that position, aka: “SHITHEAD SHULKIN!” Now all we have is healthcare that will be worse! Unless we do something about it! Only, what “IT” is, no one knows. Like namnibor said, very nicely, getting veterans together – would be like “herding cats!” Again, that’s my opinion under my “1st… Read more »
Rick b
Rick b
Well this is one case where I am a little pissed. My eyes and hearing are both service connected. I require hearing aids, and because of VA surgery, I have to use 3 different eye drops. There is no way any contractor or private doctor would provide me the same services. What really gets me is there is a better solution to the issue than is being talked about. These bastards are looking for ways to save money but it is always on the back of the Veterans who need and have earned the services. So politically correct or not,… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

That is exactly why some VAs where a lot of retirees live, like Florida, are overwhelmed.

And also exactly why congress will never fix it. Those retirees have nothing better to do but show up and vote.

You can thank Clinton for leaving that flaming bag of shit on the WH door step just before he left office.

Rick B
Rick B
911 Veteran, you can’t blame this on the retiree ( if your referring to military retirees). We are only trying to get the care we were promised. I vote, and I think it is so much easier not to vote than it is to vote. Just this week I voted in a local election, only three names were on the ballet for two different positions but as a veteran for me voting is the right thing to do no matter what motivates a veteran to vote they should vote. I for one could think of a number of things I… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran
Rick B, you are right and I should have been more clear. I mean retirees who retired from whatever but had a 2-4 year service hitch years ago, not military retirees. Military retirees were promised health care and we see how that has turned out. I am speaking of those described in a news article long ago when Clinton first opened the door to Cat 8 vets just before leaving office, with no funding provided for their care. Several months after Bush was in office, there was talk about rolling that back because it was overwhelming the system, exactly as… Read more »
Crazy elf
Crazy elf

91Veteran,
Here’s something a lot of people don’t know about the VHA’s and veterans healthcare here in Florida.
When a vet comes to Florida, and is a “Snow Bird”, the monies spent on him/her is allocated back to the state VHA the vet is from!

Thereby draining resources, ($$$$), FROM Florida’s VHA’s TO the VHA’s the vets use more often!

This was one of the issues Gov. Scott brought up when he “TRIED” to enter a few of the VHA hospitals a couple of years ago!

(That’s one reason why Florida could be earmarked for possible closures!)

Robert
I’m thankful for my eyeglasses the VA provides for me and there optometrist would test my eyesight. I rather use the out side optometrist that’s been testing my and my family’s eyes for years . He never ever made a wrong diagnoses in the eye prescription of any of us . and I’m not saying the V A would either. My insurance pays 100 percent for one exam per year per family member weather it’s for glasses or contacts or both . It pays some on contacts themselves but not a lot, but will not pay anything on eyeglasses. I… Read more »
Dan F
Dan F
Wait a second. Just hold on a second. If I kept going to the VA for eye care, I would be blind today. I won’t go into many details, but I will say after several years of their care, I went to a private Opthamologist. In fact the VA was doing more harm to my eyesight. So, no thank you, I will spend my Medicare deductible and co-pays when it comes to my eyes until I have a true choice. Besides, if I wanted VA care, I would have to travel 70 miles for it, as the CBOC doesn’t offer… Read more »
Dennis
Dennis
I propose the ultimate Choice program; A vet simply uses his SSDI number (ssn number plus part A,B, or whatever) but specifies part V for vet. SSDI applies SSDI standards to either approve or disapprove treatment and vet reserves all appeal rights like other Americans. This way, the only one a vet can blame is themselves for not finding a good doc. We fail because we put others in charge of our healthcare. We make the vet responsible for selecting the right care and not some dipshit PHD type in Washington DC. If enough vets remain loyal to VSOs then… Read more »
Rick B
Rick B
The one problem with this Dennis is that using SSDI ( Medicare) allows Medicare to decide which care to pay for and which to deny. For example, I just received a Medicare explanation of benefits, and they denied a procedure because they call the procedure an experimental procedure, ( experimental my ass its been around for years) any way if Medicare won’t pay for it, tricare follows suit, and by the way VA choice is the same way they only pay what is allowed under Medicare rules. In my 19 years of being on Medicare this is the first time… Read more »
Dennis
Dennis
@Rick B, Agreed that Medicare has its own set of problems. I am on Medicare myself despite a glorious physique for a man in my condition (huh?). I have had six figure procedures denied by Medicare as they quibbled with VA over who was gonna pay for putting my Humpty Dumpty ass back together! But you know the fleas just come with the dog don’t they? The problem for me at SSDI was fixed by a hospital social worker in about 25 minutes here my home. This was done through the normal appeal process available over the phone. I could… Read more »
May
May
As an optician having worked in the private sector, I have many issues with this. First & foremost that this will NOT reduce wait times bc there are no opthalmologists on staff. In my small town, there is a waitlist to see one. Hold on to your hats guys, bc you are not going to believe what I am about to say…. My rheumatologist is VERY concerned about her patients’ eye health, as many of the meds she prescribes have eye related side effects. She and I agree that our VA are able to provide comparable and SOMETIMES superior eyecare… Read more »
Crazy elf
Crazy elf
Here’s the follow-up on the “American Legion”, let’s keep VA the way it is – “Town Hall” – in Washington DC. From: “Military.com/Daily News” dated: 4 May 2017 Titled; “Vets Air Grievances to Acting Director of Flagship VA Medical Center” “military.com” | by Richard Sisk Basically, two groups: one group likes the care they receive! The other group doesn’t like the care they receive! The “acting director even gave out his phone number to some of the veterans who have grievances! The last paragraph, says three VA employees might be cut loose! They have 30 days to submit their reasons… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Crazy Elf, that sounds exactly like the scripted dog and pony show they had here, right down to that sympathy grabbing tidbit about the director giving out his phone number.

If these reporters were effective, they would follow up with those vets in a month or two so those vets can tell them the director never bothered returning a call.

namnibor
namnibor
Yep, and as soon as any Veteran calls that number given-out, am expecting those poor Veterans were placed on very top of the Disruptive Behavior Committee’s heap on their special list to torment and further isolate from the VA and cause their “problem Veterans” to either just give-up and stay away or future kindling right outside the gates for none to see or hear about in the news. They are not even any good at disguising their own horse and pony shows…where the sugar cubes are likely laced with not-so-groovy medicine that could kill more than a horse or pony… Read more »
OLDMARINE
OLDMARINE

this is off topic but if you have time and it is long. but well worth a watch on a shitty rainy day….
“The Biggest Game InTown about the Government CAFR wealth shell game
CAFR1″….on u tube

OLDMARINE
OLDMARINE

at least watch 30 min of it you will be amazed

LP
LP

What
The
Fuck?

LP
LP

…yeah, looks like we Vets get stuffed in both ends from Trump’s bs.

“http://taskandpurpose.com/congress-veterans-ahca-trumpcare/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tp-today&utm_content=image”

Rick B
Rick B

LP,

Good catch, on a must read article… just goes to show you once again the Congress really doesn’t give a darn about veterans, as they are all about mouth service ( yea they suck) but never about providing actual service that veterans really need. But to be fair veterans will not unite as one block either, and if we did I suspect Congress would be treating us with more respect.

LP
LP

Damn right they would.
They’d be fucking scared Not to.

Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson
This is beginning to be an apples and oranges discussion: apples being, let’s say, VA facilities offering excellent care, and oranges the ones dispensing lousy care. Mine is an apple. In 19 years I’ve never had cause to complain–and have experienced everything from annual physicals to major surgery. This is the Vermont Medical Center, by the way. But it’s beginning to sound as though the oranges might take the apples down with them. In any case, we have a Trump-driven privatization takeover in front of us, and can’t let that happen. Everybody will lose, and change for the better for… Read more »
Rick B
Rick B

I have a brother that still lives in Vermont… and he tells me that the VA there sucks really bad… So it comes down too what kind of treatment is needed and who needs it.. I tend to believe my brother not so much because he is my brother, but because I too have experienced some terrible providers at a number of VA Medical Centers.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

@Robert Wilson, @Rick B – – – VAMC White River Junction, VT has lower rating compared to the average rating of VA Medical Centers-Hospitals. Thanks, Nutter

91Veteran
91Veteran
Robert, I don’t disagree that there are some good hospitals out there. The problem is mismanagement at the hospital level and above results in many more bad hospitals than good, and the good hospitals being lumped in with the bad. Keeping the status quo as so many want to do, including the American Legion with their little PR campaigns does nothing but consign veterans to having to deal with bad hospitals and bad care. As long as so many veterans are lied to, treated badly if they are treated at all, have blatant medical problems missed or ignored and malpractice… Read more »
Dennis
Dennis
It seems to me that Shulkin needs some cognitive prodding… Dr. Shulkin, you claim that the massive computer power at Department Of Energy can be used to simulate intelligent thought (artificial intelligence). You further claim that VA is capable of making use of the data that the DOE computer simulation can produce. Dr. Shulkin, has it ever occured to you that the very same computers you intend to use are also capable of far greater simulations? After all, those computers can easily simulate phase transitions that occur at the quantum level of the whole matter/energy transition thing known as a… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

Those floatation devices deployed are either really large-form Baby Ruth bars or marshmallows contain much more fiber than we first thought.

touchavet@gmail.com

took 7 pairs of glasses and examinations as well as a letter to my State Rep to come up with one pair that would work

Rick B
Rick B
I too will admit that the VA does not provide quality made glasses. I will also state that the venders at the VA charge too much ( in many cases) for add on items. I can go to Wal-Mart, purchase the cheapest glasses and still have better glasses than what the VA gives. But, because I require special lens, and they must be tinted ( thanks to VA screw up on my surgery) because light bothers my left eye. Also damn va glasses always have a problem of turning green after a while. When they offered glasses every year that… Read more »
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