Veterans Affairs Secretary

The Sky Is Falling: VA Cries To Congress For More Money, Again

VA begged Congress for more funding this week raising fears that its Veterans Choice Program would again be broke if Congress did not fund it, again.

This hamster wheel approach to health care administration is starting to wear thin, right? Almost every three months we see a VA Secretary beg Congress to fund Veterans Choice because it is depleted of funds. I assume Congress is also wondering why VA is unable to properly forecast how much the program actually costs so lawmakers can properly fund it.

But what fun would that be to not string along desperate and sick veterans every couple of months?

The bigger question here that needs to be asked is whether overbilling by VA contractors administering Veterans Choice is why the program is swiftly running out of funds. Just last month, reports surfaced that TriWest overbilled VA by almost $100 million and is likely under grand jury investigation linked to bad billing practices.

RELATED: VSOs Support VA Privatization… And McCain Baby TriWest?

According to Stars and Stripes, Shulkin says the sky is again falling:

The Veterans Choice program will be depleted of funds within three to five weeks, Shulkin wrote in a notice to Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Without more money, the VA will soon stop referring patients to their private-sector doctors, he said.

Shulkin warned it could lead to diminished access to health care for veterans. The Choice program was established in 2014 to improve VA wait times and allow veterans to receive treatment closer to their homes. Since it was implemented, 1.9 million veterans have used the program at some point, and about one-third of VA medical appointments are completed in the private sector, according to the VA.

“VA’s other community care programs will not have the capacity to handle all of the patients who will transition from [the Choice program], and the wait time for appointments at VA facilities will rise if large numbers of veterans return to VA to seek care,” Shulkin wrote. “Taking these actions would have a number of negative consequences, including decreased access to care, damaged community partnerships and interrupted care continuity for veterans.”

How long before Congress gets on with it and properly funds the program? We can guarantee if TriWest and Health Net have their way, the program will get properly funded as soon as the back and forth justifies shutting down VA healthcare altogether.

RELATED: VA Pimps Out Veteran Health Data

Personally, I think VA should be embarrassed to continue going hat in hand back to Congress so frequently for money, which is a sign the agency is completely failing to forecast its budget like a normal Cabinet agency.

At some point, someone may call VA to see if there is a bluff at the poker table, and I would hate for veterans to die as a result. Maybe it’s best to avoid even the appearance of crying wolf for no reason or too frequently.

No one likes a whiner.

Source: Stars and Stripes

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  1. I have been forced to use veterans choice since it began with no results, it never worked. It was used because i have no transportation to the local va hospital which is 39 miles from me, the appointments i get are twice the milage and have not been able to understand the doctor because they can’t hardly speak English. I lost my driver’s license due to malpractices by the va and can not satisfy DMV because the va appointments take to long and the medical certificate expires. Nothing about this program makes sence.

  2. send letters or just wait to see what and how much of a cut the new Senator from Alabama will make

  3. NO MONEY UNTIL – appointing the VA a FIDUCIARY and no new pretty desks, chairs, artwork, curtains, etc or new computers, pretty paint until the VA passes a full audit from top down and again from bottom up!

  4. I’m all in favor of the VA getting more funding. It’s where they spend that funding that enrages me.

  5. I know that I am supposed to stay on topic about VA but I just had to share some brand new local news that also made headlines! Local hog farmers have reported that their pigs inform them through BOAP that no additional bacon will be produced for America if the farmers don’t start to pony up additional slop rations within four to five days.

    Hog farmers are scrambling on already tight slop budgets to comply. It is unknown what consequences a diminished bacon supply will have on America though because it has never really been done.

    The BOAP (Brotherhood Of American Pigs) representative who spoke with the farmers could not be reached for comment. That pig is away on official international business with his sow and piglets.

    Now, back to the topic at hand; What was it Shulkin wanted again?

    1. the bacon shortage is easily solved if the farmers don’t comply. We simply just start carving up VA employees until the crisis is past. They don’t call it long pork for nothing.

  6. we need to get legislation passed that requires all politicians to wear tap shoes. So we can tell when their trying to dance around the truth 😀 😀 😀

  7. the simplest way to get rid of this huge fiasco would be to split the VA up into 2 currently existing entities.

    Claims go to the SSA for processing and adjudication. Since they do this anyways any bumps in the road should be minimal as they get up to speed handling vets. It would also lend weight to the veterans claim as VA currently is “supposed” to give weight to SSDI approval when deciding veterans claims.

    Healthcare is handled by Medicare. Again since the system is already setup to handle ordinary poor folk the transition of vets into the system should be pretty much seamless.

    You then eliminate the VA as an agency and allocate it’s budget to the two agencies named.

    An added bonus to this is if the SSA is allowed to put that budget into the trust fund it may also help towards long term solvency of SSDI.

    I don’t know about you guys but that sounds like a win-win-win situation to me.

  8. Do away with VA Healthcare “altogether”? What a novel approach, and, it fits knife in saber with the tweaked interpretation of America’s moral obligation to blah, blah, blah.
    We’re 18.5 million today and shrinking, Congress does not respond to the alarming messages from this grassroots Veteran advocate community even when one responsible Congressman reserves the Gold Room in the Rayburn Building on the hill.
    So, let’s at least make this fun.
    I’ll take bets, 10 to 1, that VA Healthcare will be taken over because the Obama leftover, Shulkin, doesn’t improve anything and (here’s the real larger fish to fry) UCLA and the Brentwood community walk off with what used to be a “HOME” in West Los Angeles, California.

  9. Shulkin is playing fast and loose with the facts here, but will anyone in Congress or the media call him out on it?

    He makes it sound as if the VA has completely transferred care of large numbers of veterans to the Choice program, and the VA no longer has anything to do with those vets, but if Choice is not funded, those vets will be flooding back in to the VA. We all know any vet referred to the Choice program can only be referred by a VA doctor who must agree the vet needs outside care. How this would ruin continuity of care is only possible if the VA is not already aware of that vet going to Choice. In other words, the VA has referred the vet to Choice, then forgotten about them.

    How good is that continuity now when the VA cannot get referrals correct, cannot find a provider because they damaged the relationship by not paying bills, or a veterans care is interrupted because the VA cannot project their budget, so Choice appointments are canceled?

    I am getting the sense that the entire Choice program is being run like a Tom Burch veterans charity where 95% of the funding is going to overhead and administration.

    Shulkin will get his money, contractors will get theirs, VSOs will say “yessir, three bags full”, and veterans will continue fighting and dying over table scraps because nobody in Congress is willing to hold the VA accountable for their incompetence.

  10. * DeJa-Vu: “With No Shared Sacrifice being asked of civilians after Sept. 11″, especially at trump level, Decades and War From, All Over Again!! *
    And no one has demanded they should, Still!!
    Especially the wealthy, all conservatives, the trump speaks: 2 Aug 2015 – ‘I fight like hell to pay as little as possible’: Donald Trump says he avoids all the tax he can. Along with his 9/11 ‘chickenhawk’ offspring & their same spouses & friends!!
    trumper/conservatives/FOX on – Flag, National Anthem, Country, Patriotism, Heritage – Speak Only!!
    * The VA is the people served ‘Responsibility’ to ‘Sacrifice’ and Not for Corporate Profits, especially off Wars!! *
    Keeping My Oath: USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

    1. * DeJa-Vu: “With No Shared Sacrifice being asked of civilians after Sept. 11″, especially at trump level, Decades and War From, All Over Again!! *
      And no one has demanded they should, Still!!
      “We are dealing with veterans, not procedures—with their problems, not ours.” —General Omar Bradley, First Administrator of the Veterans Administration
      “Why in 2009 were we still using paper?” VA Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers “When we came in, there was no plan to change that; we’ve been operating on a six month wait for over a decade.” 27 March 2013
      Sen. Bernie Sanders told Conservatives: “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, than don’t go war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about, We have a moral obligation to support them.” February, 26th, 2014
      More corporate profits, health care industry, off wars especially:
      * The VA is the people served ‘Responsibility’ to ‘Sacrifice’ and Not for Corporate Profits, especially off Wars!! *
      Theodore Roosevelt, “A man who is good enough to shed his blood for the country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards.” 1903
      The trumpers, all (R)’s especially: For Wars-‘0’$$ For Continued Blowback From Policies-‘0’ $$ For Veterans Of-‘0’ $$
      Most of the people served, especially the wealthy and all conservatives, the trump speaks: 2 Aug 2015 – ‘I fight like hell to pay as little as possible’: Donald Trump, Dodged the Draft – Dodged Recruiters – Dodges Responsibility, same for his 9/11 offspring, says he avoids all the tax he can.
      Two Huge Tax Cuts, and more after those for them, not, ‘job creators’: Made Wealth off Defense War Investments, like the government funded private for profit merc army and intelligence arm -$$$ Making Wealth off Continued Blowback From the Policies-$$$ Wants To Make Wealth off All Privatized VA-$$$
      Chris Hayes : “If you can run a deficit to go to war, you can run a deficit to take care of the people who fought it” In response to Republican, long ago lost as the party of Lincoln and not just as to us Veterans, opposition to expanding Veterans’ benefits on fiscal grounds
      Still Unpaid For!! Especially By The trumper Like!!
      “If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too — not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American.” -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013
      Keeping My Oath: USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent**

  11. As a Police Manager before retiring we were require to attend Management School for one year for Departmental Budgeting. The key to Budgeting is to budget for the short term as well as the long term, in other words always pad your budget, if you have excess at the end of the year turn it in to a General fund. At this point you would know how much for the fiscal year to budget for and you will never run out of funds.

    1. Been there, done that. I bucket NEVER gets empty, it only grows fatter. If you are honest about the budget and spending, your funds get CUT for the next time around and you don’t have enough to pay for the essentials of operations.

      1. That’s how the VA Tick gets more engorged every year, yet the cost/benefit actually being realized by we Veterans is less and less…while these fucks keeps stuffing excess bucks into their engorged trunks.

    2. James this is the VA we are talking about. Nothing ever gets put into a general fund it all goes out the door in bonuses, graft, fraud and theft.

      You ever notice how all the VA medical Facilities are run exactly like a for-profit hospitals? Collecting every penny they can from Veterans on Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance.

      Yet all the facilities, equipment and supplies are bought and maintained by taxpayers dollars. All the VA’s staff and AFGE personal’s Salaries, education and training are all bought and paid for by us taxpayers by the VA’s budget.

      Yet even with no overhead that a normal hospital has to pay for there is never enough money and never any accounting for the $10s’ of Billions collected annually by the VA from Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance.

      If they audited all of the wait lists that keep springing do you think they will find that the only people on the lists are Veterans who don’t have Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance?

      It would be a pretty safe Bet that Very few Veterans with Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance are on any of those wait lists.

      Also you can certainly bet that Veteran with Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance gets much better service through the choice program.

      1. Seymore, it would be interesting to find out more about how these wait lists are manipulated, and whether the VA does so depending on whether they have access to another payer.

        I think it would be very telling if Ben FOIAd how much money the VA had demanded from Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or other payers in a fiscal year, and where that money went.

        I have heard various stories about where it goes, but nothing definite. For as aggressive as the VA has gotten in going after an outside payer, I bet the amount collected is in the hundreds of millions if not billions every year.

        If that is actually the case, where is that money going? It certainly does not go back into the facility as you could see in a private hospital.

        Where is that money reported and accounted for?

      2. 91Veteran,

        No doubt the total take each year by the Veterans Administration from billing Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Private Insurance companies is in the $10’s of Billions annually.

        Last year I pointed out the Medicare and Medicaid scam the VA was pulling at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island. The following are several excepts from the New York Times article that reported it. It shows just how profitable it was for the hospital to be pulling the Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance billing fraud.

        “According to internal emails, and current and former employees familiar with the alleged scheme who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation, nurses were directed to make cold calls to veterans and then code those calls to look as though they had been solicited by the patient, not the practitioner, in order to enhance revenue.

        One former hospital employee likened the practice to your private physician calling you out of the blue to check up on you, then billing your insurance company for the call. The former employee, who asked to speak anonymously to avoid reprisal, said the practice was a means of padding the numbers.

        The goal of the calls, according to the internal emails, was to contact around 2,000 veterans and thus raise enough money by the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30, to patch a large hole in the hospital’s growing deficit, of more than $11 million.”

        “In all, the calls apparently generated roughly $1 million in payments for more than 200 veterans, according to the emails.


        “A number of the nurses directed to make those calls appeared concerned about the activities, and a package of their email correspondence was turned over to the House Veterans Affairs’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. A copy was obtained independently by The Times.

        Instead of receiving overtime pay for the hours spent logging calls, which might have raised suspicions, the nurses earned comp time, according to the emails.

        One nurse wrote that the veterans were being used as “cash cows,” which the hospital administration wanted “to milk for $9 million.”

        The worth of each veteran in the scheme: $4,285.71.

        “Lots of questions that make me a little uneasy,” one nurse wrote. “What would be the best place to get accurate information on whether this is an ethical move?”

        Another email complained about the workload. “I also find it unfair to expect this amount of work on already overburdened nurses,” it said.

        A response read, “Notice how management is tracking the R.N.s and tallying their calls. This will no doubt be used to retaliate — keep track of that. Notice how only comp time is being issued vs overtime to hide any $ going to support said telephone encounter billing fraud.””


        The full article is:

        “Deaths, Fraud Allegations and an Inquiry Into a Long Island V.A. Hospital”
        By KRISTINA REBELO and MARC SANTORA, New York Times published SEPT. 19, 2016


      3. Seymore, I recall reading that, but had forgotten they were including Medicare/Medicaid in their billing fraud.

        Like the bonus fraud, you can bet its happening throughout the VA.

      4. 91Veteran,

        As noted in the article the VA was able to bill Medicare and Medicaid $4,285.71 each time a nurse talked to a Veteran on the phone. So, you know it is going on at every VA Medical facility.

        That was last year’s figure by the way. Now with some VA nurses being able to act as primary care physicians I am sure that they are able to bill for more than the $4,285.71 for each contact.

        Also, can certainly understand why the VA is pushing those new phone apps. Wonder how much they will be able to bill for each contact using that technology? Certainly going to be a money maker for the VA.

      5. I can probably testify to this as a Vet on Medicare. I filed for and received SSDI within 6 months with the 1 automatic denial. The process was quick and pretty painless. So much so that my attorney got 700 bucks for sitting on her ass and doing nothing. Medicare once I was eligible has been a godsend. I can walk into my doctor of 6 years now any time I want. I get the meds I need for the conditions I have. Small co-pays for blood draws and the pharmacy.

        You won’t catch me dead walking into the VA for healthcare.

      6. When I did the SSDI thing, I simultaneously was doing my VA Svc. Connected Claim, and neither agency would talk to each other, making it even harder but wanted to stress it’s NOT always as easy-peasy as your own experience, as I was denied 3x and then had to get my congress critter to bat for me because the Admin. Judge would not even get to little oh me in his stack for 3 1/2 years, that was the Admn. Judge SSA BACKLOG back in ’07ish….my situation was also unique in that my congress critter actually went to bat for me.(Sen. Sherrod Brown-D, OH) Interestingly, I did not have to wrestle the VA and won my 100% first time around with all evidence and crap I have kept…so it also depends highly on what State a person lives in when filing SSDI, some States have a worse backlog but you do not hear about that in the news so much…and I can also say the Social Sec. Disability Determination Hack Examiners were of the same cloth and caliber as VA C&P hacks. I think they come as prizes in pig slop breakfast cereal or something like that.
        Rant Out.

      7. I was actually surprised I got my SSDI so quickly all my research lead me to believe I was in for at least a 2 year fight. This was also right after a report I had read that said a large majority of judges where rubber stamping claims possibly to get the backlog under control I don’t know. I just know I expected to be in for the long haul, much like I am now with the VA. I was utterly flumoxed when that letter arrived. It leads me to believe that this just isn’t “all in my head”

        Now I’m waiting on my C&P exam date don’t even know when that’s supposed to happen.

        To be fair the SSDI examiner I talked to seemed highly competent and intelligent and seemed compassionate and sincere.

      8. Same with the. VSOs. They operate at VA facilities using taxpayer’s dollar to pay for their office space. They also get tax free status…so, their CEOs and key personnel can earn six figures from all the donations they get.

        Disgusting scheme.

    3. James,
      Can you imagine IF all the people “balanced their checkbooks” like the VA and ALL the other agencies. We’d be in one HELL of a pickle! Can you imagine the backlog of the bankruptcy courts!

      Of course, our Republic isn’t going into bankruptcy, yea right! [Sarcasm intended here!] We’re slipping into the hand of socialism! Get ready to ——–!!!!!!

      1. *IF* the VA were to find-out any of us Veterans mismanaged $$$ the way the VA does they would appoint a VSO Piggy Appointed Fiduciary on any of us. I’ll repeat: THE VA REQUIRES AN APPOINTED FIDUCIARY: I NAME BENJAMIN.

  12. Writ of Mandamus!
    Congress only attends those hearings for the food and of course you cannot FOIA Congress for the cost of that food because they are exempt.
    The hamster wheel definitely is spinning, but the problem is ,that you have a bunch of fat ass manatees on the wheel!
    All those fatbacks in corsettes need their clock cleaned!

    1. CorpsmanUp,
      Let’s not forget about the tens of millions of taxpayers monies, in multiple congressional slush funds, to pay for their “sexual misconducts”! Who are they to use taxpayers monies to pay for their sexual misconduct, without the People’s consent!?

      Plus, how do these “Congress Leaches” become multimillionaires on their meager pay? In my opinion, it’s because they’re THEIVES and Crooks like Alfonso Capone! Where’s their rights to gain from the taxpayers without our consent?!

      Let’s hope they, the ones who ARE theives, catch syphilis like Capone, and die in a “mad state of mind!”

      1. The final report would read “He died from fatbackus jumbo bellyosis and fuckover a veteranitis coupled with ShulkinBeetus”! Yeah…. very chronic!

      2. CorpsmanUp,
        Let’s not forget about, since President Trump was inaugurated, most of the government and nongovernmental agencies have been caught abusing the system by having “slush funds” which have;
        1.) Supplied our enemies with monies and weapons; ISIS, Hezbollah and more!
        2.) Financially bolstered anti-American organizations within our borders: ie; Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR and others!
        3.) Has brought SHAME upon OUR REPUBLIC throughout the world!

        In my opinion, If this isn’t enough to bring abject anger AGAINST many in politics across this country, which has kept the masses in chains for decades, then so be it! For, there’s NOT one damn thing which will change the status quo!

      3. XPO Logistics is one of them.
        They are feightbrokers that create contracts with independent contractors so that they don’t have to pay payroll taxes.
        These contractors are not properly vetted when the LLC is created.
        A ripe whole for terrorist here in the US.
        With access to 18 wheelers at that.
        They need to be investigated.

      4. I believe congress is exempt from “insider trading” and since every congress critter is heavily into stocks and what not that’s where most of their “legal” cash comes from. Of course I could be wrong but I doubt it.

        I had read a few months back that Lyin’ Ryan was worth 5.6mil

      5. WyldeChyled,
        Your correct, I’m not sure WHEN Congress became “exempt from insider trading.”
        It may have been during Clinton’s Administration. That’s when those “slush funds” began, in 1995, to let them use taxpayers monies to pay off (bribe) women who accused them of sexual misconduct!

      6. Go back even to POTUS Reagan and the whole ‘Ollie North Arm$ Trading $capegoat” debacle…the slush fund was some special slushy poo that’s come back to bite us in these current wars. How? When Russia high-tailed it out of Afghanistan, they abandoned ALL their arms, most vehicles, everything…those same arms from “Ollie’s” are still killing our own troops. Ugly history but it is what it is.

    1. Donald are you sure about Disney land?

      Do you mean the 10 day European Vacation which included Wimbledon championship tennis match, toured Westminster Abbey and the cruise on the Thames? Not to mention the quick trip to Switzerland to check their account balances right after the last Veterans choice money crisis. Guess they must have had to deposit their share of the skim from the Veterans Choice program in Switzerland.

      1. Everything is “Disney-fied” at the VA. Ex-Suck McDuck made sure everyone got funny ears and hats….lots of funny hats for the VA dingbats.


    I’m wondering about something, y’all might want to help me out.

    Yesterday, I read an article where: quote: “…McCain is refusing to answer questions, from law enforcement, over WHERE he’s getting his monies from!” unquote! In the article, “$100 million” was referenced!
    Now I’m not saying McCain’s a theif, it’s just that something doesn’t pass the “sniff-O-meter” test on this! On the other hand, there’s LOTS of people in the federal government who’ve become rich[er] on the small salaries they make! “WHY” and “HOW” is that possible?

    For “Shithead Shulkin” to keep going to Congress, begging for “Mo Money” every couple of months, at the most, is NOT only ridiculous. It could be criminal!

    We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again –
    Where the HELL is ALL the taxpayers monies flowing? It sure as hell ain’t “flowing” to help veterans, past, present and future!
    In my opinion, There needs to be a private investigator looking into HOW many VA upper management have off shore bank accounts! Just how many have become multimillionaires over the past few years?
    Audit the VA, and I’ll bet there’s lots of reprobates getting their hands dirty!


    1. All that $$$ is on the VA’s crazy train & operated by the very ‘War Pigs’ Ozzy also wrote about:
      “War Pigs”

      “[Generals gathered in their masses,
      just like witches at black masses.
      Evil minds that plot destruction,
      sorcerer of death’s construction.
      In the fields the bodies burning,
      as the war machine keeps turning.
      Death and hatred to mankind,
      poisoning their brainwashed minds…Oh lord yeah!

      Politicians hide themselves away
      They only started the war
      Why should they go out to fight?
      They leave that role to the poor

      Time will tell on their power minds
      Making war just for fun
      Treating people just like pawns in chess
      Wait `till their judgement day comes, yeah!

      Now in darkness, world stops turning,
      ashes where the bodies burning.
      No more war pigs have the power,
      hand of god has struck the hour.
      Day of judgement, god is calling,
      on their knees the war pigs crawling.
      Begging mercy for their sins,
      Satan, laughing, spreads his wings…Oh lord, yeah! ]”–Black Sabbath

    2. I have said it before to congressmen and senators and I will say it again…..SHUT VA DOWN. Put those who are robbing the soldiers of what they deserve, in jail and make them pay back the money taken. Get the administration of the VA back into the hands of those who have served and know and understand the needs of ALL who have served this country. STOP using and abusing the soldiers that are and have done the job they were asked to do.

  14. Mr. Ozzy Osbourne’s lyrics to “Crazy Train” is most appropriate:

    “[“Crazy Train”

    [Daisley – Osbourne – Rhoads]

    All aboard! Hahaha


    I, I, I, I… [fade]


    Crazy, but that’s how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe. it’s not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

    Mental wounds not healing
    Life’s a bitter shame
    I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train
    I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train

    I’ve listened to preachers,
    I’ve listened to fools
    I’ve watched all the dropouts
    Who make their own rules
    One person conditioned to rule and control
    The media sells it and you live the role

    Mental wounds still screaming
    Driving me insane
    I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train
    I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train

    I know that things are going wrong for me
    You gotta listen to my words, yeah, yeah

    Heirs of a cold war,
    That’s what we’ve become
    Inheriting troubles,
    I’m mentally numb
    Crazy, I just cannot bear
    I’m living with something that just isn’t fair

    Mental wounds not healing
    Who and what’s to blame
    I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train
    I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train]”– Black Sabbath

    1. Crazy Train UTube


  15. I think the Mob runs the VA and uses veterans as pawns so they can launder more money from the US Government.

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