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Consider that Ezra Klein is very sympathetic not only to the law, but to the administrations handling of most of its creation. But what he says here is really indicting: the problems are much bigger than we thought, could take a while to fix, and someone should get fired for this.

But here's the key excerpt that caught my attention:

This isn't about politics. A lot of liberals will be angry over this post. A lot of conservatives will be happy about it. But it's important to see the Affordable Care Act as something more than a pawn in the political wars: It's a real law that real people are desperately, nervously, urgently trying to access. And so far, the Obama administration has failed them.
The Obama administration's top job isn't beating the Republicans. It's running the government well. On this -- the most important initiative they've launched -- they've run the government badly. They deserve all the criticism they're getting and more.
I COMPLETELY agree with Ezra here. As someone who has been trying to access the site a billion times, to call it a disaster and failure doesnt do it justice. The administration knew they had an opposition party that would smell blood on even the smallest glitches, let alone a meltdown and yet some of the functions and communications with insurance companies weren't even Beta-tested, which is a level of carelessness and irresponsibility beyond comprehension.

All these blue states across the country are going gangbusters with their own exchanges, from NY to Cali to Washington and so on. So this isn't about the law, single-payer, or any other thing. This is about simple EXECUTION and running a government that can deliver the goods it promises.

They failed their supporters, but also congressional Democrats, who stuck their necks out only to have the administration completely bungle the mechanical stuff.

UPDATE: Here's the link:

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Comment Preferences

  •  Meanwhile, get the word out--if you can't access, (27+ / 0-)

    you can do your application over the phone.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 11:48:24 AM PDT

  •  Link? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Just Bob

    Could you provide a link in the diary, to the Klein piece quoted?

    Not doubting its veracity.  Just wanting to make it easier for readers to read the original/full version.  Thanks.

  •  Privatization (7+ / 0-)

    Have you hugged a private contractor today?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 11:53:52 AM PDT

    •  Its more than that (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, Stude Dude, ebohlman

      The states running their own exchanges used private contractors. Its on the administration.

      •  Some counter-points that question the funding: (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ferg, rbird, Fireshadow, chantedor, greengemini

        Read bUU's statements on this website re the ACA Federal Marketplace, including these:

        After you've spent a year working on the systems development, you'll have gained some significant insights on the challenges.

        It is not uncommon for folks to grossly underestimate what it takes to do something they want done, but aren't responsible for doing themselves.....

        The response of one critic:
        I actually was responsible for financial systems of a company with over a billion of revenue during one of my jobs so the challenges of systems development and implementation are not new to me. My only point is that they are spending tens or even hundreds of millions on this effort and it still seems to be woefully behind being ready for prime time. Given the amounts they are spending it is hard to see underfunding as the issue. But we can agree to disagree on that I guess.
        Here's bUU's response:
        We'll have to. My spouse and I have worked for some of the largest software companies in the world, on some of the most complex systems, and from what we (mostly my spouse) can see, the level of under-funding of the health insurance exchanges is remarkable. Read over the PDF that Htown Harry posted - it describes a system that would necessarily have to be one of the most complex of its class ever undertaken, simply on the basis of the number and variety of external interfaces. Interfacing with INS, itself, is a large undertaking, and that's just one of many external interfaces.

        To be fair, this kind of short-changing has been common in large government projects, at times in the past, and that cheapness is now leeching into non-government projects, from what I can see.

        -4.75, -5.33 Cheney 10/05/04: "I have not suggested there is a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

        by sunbro on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:48:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The website is only the portal to the problems (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sunbro, chantedor, Meteor Blades

          They don't even know who their customers are.  At least an employer can run a report and find out who hasn't enrolled yet.  They don't even know who is trying to enroll let alone who is going to wait till December to start trying.  It's not just getting a log in id.  They have to deliver policies and handle payment.

          It's not merely funding the web development.  They need fully operational end to end systems.  That always requires PEOPLE until you get all the bugs out of the automation and even then it requires PEOPLE.  

          You think they under funded the web development.  I can only imagine how underfunded they are on operational staffing for this.

          •  I don't know about (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            other states, but here in Texas the only company on the exchange is Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and the web site told me to contact the insurer about payment.  About 5 working days after I submitted the application, I got a welcome E-mail and call from Blue Cross.  Blue Cross Texas told me they are backed up with all the applicants they have and it is taking a while to get to the applications.  They are not requiring payment until November 15th, for the policies that start Jan. 1.  I went on the web site Oct 10th at about 2 in the morning and went thru all the steps right then, without a problem.  I don't understand why some people are getting thru and others are having such a problem...any IT guys out there that can explain that?  If there are glitches, why are there not glitches for everyone?

  •  what's worse (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, dfarrah

    didn't the website cost a boat load of money? like more than $100million?

    People we expecting (or should have been) delays and bumps, but apparently it's been pretty bad.  

    Like xbox red ring of death bad.

    Worse even than that iphone that you had to hold a certain way.

    People will stand in line and wait in line in in-climate weather to save a little bit of money on things they weren't going to buy anyway, they will not log in every couple days and try to buy something as important as insurance.  

    Some should be held responsible for the website though.  Needs to be done.

    The Senate has no guts. The House has no brains.

    by gossamer1234 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 11:54:48 AM PDT

  •  Ever try (6+ / 0-)

    to get an Amazon-style Server Farm,

    bought and paid-for by and Austerity-driven government budgeting process?

    The trends driving our govt call for less hardware, not more;

    it's all about a "smaller HW footprint" ...

    has been for a very long time now.

  •  So, Ezra, Obama is at fault again, feels good to (11+ / 0-)

    attack him with all the smugness you can muster.  I guess you think a roll out like this in the midst of  Shut Down mania should just slide like butter.  You finally have your chance to get Obama so you can say to  your next employer see how I attack everyone, I am objective in my analysis.  Petty, is now your other attribute.  The huge pent up demand has caused problems, when was a huge program like this done with easy flow.  My friends always said your were no different than other media phonies, you just looked better at it.

    •  He is what they mean (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ianb007, closerange, rbird, askew, sukeyna

      when they say elitist. Him and Chris Hayes.

      His brand of liberalism has a different feel and look from like a Ed Schultz.  

      The Senate has no guts. The House has no brains.

      by gossamer1234 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:13:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  BB - there was no reason to do a national rollout (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenbell, whittx

      On Oct 1st. The rollout on Oct 1st could have been by state, or alphabet or under 30, or anything that allowed the site managers to watch what happened when a smaller group of people used the site. My understanding is that there was no beta testing of the site.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:49:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And the testing needed to go beyond the site (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The testing needed to handle the entire end to end process to the point of processing payment and delivering an insurance policy.  If you don't have an insurance card on January 1st, you've got nothing.

    •   systems like these are complex as complex gets... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if NASDaq can bungle a Facebook IPO it goes that bungling  in software launches is not new...I'm in software...I have never seen a hitch-free rollout...though I admit the ACA QA'ing may not have been thoroughly validated...

      "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis, 1935 --Talk of foresight--

      by tuma on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 02:54:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, one problem (0+ / 0-)

      was funding.  The Repubs would not approve all the funding needed for this rollout...however, to me, it seems like 93 million is an AWFUL LOT to have paid for such bad outcomes.

  •  Ezra Klein Is An A-Hole (10+ / 0-)

    The website for Medicaid Part D had problems and everyone hated the law.  Ezra Klein does not do himself any good by bashing the ACA.  His future as a pundit will be in big jeopardy in the years to come for this post.  Why you say, because ACA is going to be big in the years to come.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:05:42 PM PDT

    •  You are in denial (11+ / 0-)

      Just because you don't like the information is no reason to shoot the messenger.

      I am sorry for your cognitive dissonance.

      "The Obama Administration has been an unmitigated disaster" - Osama Bin Laden

      by Explorer8939 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:14:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (5+ / 0-)

        Ezra is being an asshole in this instance.

        I couldn't get on the site last week, but today I EASILY got on the site and went through all of the steps to shop for policies.

        I got my "rebate" ($33 per month). However I didn't actually purchase a policy because my wife is going to be accepting a job soon that will hopefully offer heath insurance.

        For the last few years we have both been self-employed. The policies on line were comparable to what I currently have.

        I was a little ticked off last week when I couldn't get on, but I knew that it would just take a little patience. And working a few kinks out.

        Ezra knows that too, but he is playing to his editors and trying to be "fair and balanced"

    •  I wouldn't go as far as calling him an A-hole, (11+ / 0-)

      but I do know that the false equivalence bug has been let loose among journalists/reporters.
      They are the ones giving Republican saboteurs cover. With the nation facing economic collapse and families suffering from the shutdown, Saturday and Sunday were no-news days. Nothing happening. No sense of urgency from MSNBC and CNN.
      And then he used all that space, time and energy to attack Obama. Go figure.

      Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

      by JoanMar on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:18:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One thing Americans don't need is additional (7+ / 0-)

    evidence that government doesn't work or work well. There was plenty of time and money put into the implementation of Obamacare to get it right, or, at least, usable. It obviously doesn't work and, yes, heads should roll. The victims to the inability to access Obamacare are not only disgruntled Americans but our continued loss of faith in government to get things done - as if more evidence were needed.  

    •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Can't depend on the gommint, huh?

      As a young starving artist I worked in the correspondence department of a large private and national life insurance company. They had installed a new computer system costing many millions of dollars. When it was put on-line it promptly crashed, obliterating hundreds of thousands of premium payment records in the process. I had to spend the rest of my tenure at the company answering desperate letters from policy-holders who had paid their premiums on time but were told (by another computer) that their policies were in default. We had search for payments and once discovered (and always discovered) reinstate every policy-holder by hand - and keep reinstating our angry (and more often frightened) customers over and over until the system was fixed or trashed. After 3 months, I quit in disgust but heard from ex-coworkers that it took many more months, perhaps a full year, before some semblance of normalcy returned.

      But durn that incompetent gommint!

      Some years back I purchased a $125,000 specialty computer system for my own business from a private corporation considered to be the top maker in the World. They also happened to have a stellar reputation. After delivery and multiple failed attempts to get it up and running requiring hundreds of man-hours (staff and outside hires) the seller finally admitted the damn computer system didn't work - and when I say it didn't work I mean the company sold it to us knowing that a glitch in their programming rendered it 100% unusable.

      I had a choice between hiring a stateside and overseas lawyer and suing in the thin hope of getting my money back, or even part of it (not easy since it was a foreign company) or waiting out the company's own estimate of 3 months before they believed the glitch could be fixed and the system could be put online.

      I chose to wait - all the time paying interest to a bank on equipment that I wasn't making any money off of. About 6 months later the system finally went online. The seller is still in business with its good reputation intact.

      A large part of the glitch problem was the fact that the company (and others like them) has to rely on customers for ultimate A&D since it takes real-life situations to really put a complex system through its paces.

      It wouldn't be the last time I'd be screwed by a computer program and at a cost of thousands to my own company.

      But that durned gommint, well we all know about them folks, right?

  •  Has anybody stopped to think (13+ / 0-)

    that as bad as some say the rollout has been (and I am not disputing that), there may be a deliberate attempt to make it worse? Billionaires have spent millions to sabotage this program, even to the extent of targeting young people and trying to persuade them to act against their own self interest. What's to prevent them from hiring tech savvy people to mess up the the sites?
    I tried once to sign up and was astounded as to how little it would cost me to get insurance for me and one dependent. It would truly be The Affordable Care Act. I couldn't get beyond a certain point to sign up so I've decided to wait a while before trying again.
    Should they have done a better job? Sure. For political, PR, and so many other reasons. But I am not discouraged and I don't know many in my immediate circle who are. We are a patient people.

    Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

    by JoanMar on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:11:14 PM PDT

  •  This should blow over in a couple of months ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    astage4444, Sylv

    ... until then, some heads will roll.

    "The Obama Administration has been an unmitigated disaster" - Osama Bin Laden

    by Explorer8939 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:13:26 PM PDT

  •  asking because I dont know (0+ / 0-)

    why isnt or are there, alternatives to the website?

    Couldn't you just download a form and mail it in? Or make a phone call? Or physically go somewhere?

    Tell me that the internet is not the sole way you can get on the exchanges?!

  •  Has ANYONE been able to ENROLL in Minnesota? (0+ / 0-)
  •  Shades of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Heckuva job, Brownie." Yes, is a disaster. And I'm tired of hearing a bunch of lame excuses.

    The U.S. Government has a habit of going with the low bidder on contracts. In my experience, this means they end up with lesser-qualified contractors. You get what you pay for.

    The United States does not negotiate with terrorists - that includes Republicans.

    by frsbdg on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:21:06 PM PDT

  •  Well, I don't think it's fair (7+ / 0-)

    to excoriate the Federal Exchange as totally failing while holding out all the State-based ones as totally perfect. They are not.

    I live in NY. I was signed on at 8 am sharp on on Oct. 1. And I still haven't been able to complete my application and am waiting for a paper application.

    (On the advice of the customer service people, I am still chippng away at it on a regular basis, and my on-line application is getting more complete. HINT: don't use commas in numbers greater than one thousand and never add any cents to any figure. I suppose everyone knows that, but just in case they didn't, a little bit of text would have saved a few days' frustration! One known glitch in the NY system is that sometimes it doesn't calculate the subsidy - if any - correctly if not everyone in the household is buying insurance on the NY Exchange. Oops!)

    Now, the NY people on the phone are super nice and relentlessly helpful but they can't make their web-site work properly ALL OF THE TIME, either.

    It's glitchy and we are a state that never had any hesitation about setting up our own site so time and changing scale issues were never a factor.

    I agree it should all have worked perfectly, everywhere, but I don't agree with all the handwringing.

    I'm sure folks are working overtime trying to make thing work well and I am confident that will happen.  

    Embarassing, perhaps; but fatal? Not even close.

    And it's not like there will be a growing base of repeat customers. Once your application is done, you'll be all set and your place in the system will be taken by someone else.  It's not Amazon, you're not going to go back and keep buying more stuff. Once a year is plenty when it comes to  shoppng  for health insurance!

    I think people need to chill out. It's Columbus Day, not early December.


  •  File a Paper Application (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, viral

    I had trouble accessing my state website. Finally, I requested a paper application and signed up by mail.

    •  And the next question is (0+ / 0-)

      Do they have any people to process the paper applications?  I fear this is more than a web site problem.  Signing up millions of people requires an excellent operational system not merely a cool web site.

  •  one of the lucky few (8+ / 0-)

    Wow I can only assume from reading the comments that I am one of a lucky few that has a successful signup on the fed exchange. I did create my account before launch so had the ID verification already done. I did it by keeping the website open in another tab and multitasking until it redirected to the log in page.  And I filled out the app on an early sunday morning and avoided peak traffic times.
    Should it be that difficult?
    Hell no!@
    Is it worth it
    Hell yes.
    I will have affordable health insurance for the first time in years and it is a BFD to me.

  •  A Different, Worrisome Possible Problem (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, greenbell, VClib

    Yesterday's Sunday Chicago Tribune, admittedly a Republican paper but one that has had a lot of positive information about the ACA, had a front page headline about sticker shock on the spending that must be done before there is a benefit. It printed a chart of Illinois choices as given on the website, and the insurance looked reasonable until you looked at how many thousands had to be coughed up before the insurance kicked in. They're called co-pays, but they are not just a small portion of each bill incurred. The Tribune writer blamed the insurance companies but said--accurately, I think--that people who are going to have to pay full price for everything until they have paid in as much as $6,000 on some policies are not going to go to the doctor, just like now.

    I myself have a Medicare policy and spend very little on medical care, and I live in Wisconsin now anyway, so the Illinois policies don't affect me personally.  I don't have any more information and am off to do other things, so I can't discuss this further.  I just thought what I read deserved some mention.  To me, if it is true, it makes a good reason to have a single payer system and eliminate insurance company excessive emphasis on profits. But to make that argument, we need a government competent to run a big system smoothly.  Maybe all the computer experts are too busy snooping for the NSA and other agencies instead of doing something helpful.

  •  The site seems to be working better (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would give it through  November to work out the issues.  This is an IT problem, not a lack of demand. People are entitled to criticize the government for not getting the architecture right the first time around, but it's not like it isn't fixable. The day after it's fixed, people will forget about the clunky rollout.

    Global Shakedown - Alternative rock with something to say. Check out their latest release, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and other major online music sites. Visit

    by khyber900 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:49:49 PM PDT

  •  I had no problems getting thru. u can't fix stupid (0+ / 0-)

    My best guess was a reflection that did not look back, an image lost in every mirror.

    by Zacapoet on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:50:34 PM PDT

  •  Ezra Klein is an ass. How can it be a disaster (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, Fireshadow, Minnesota Deb

    just two weeks into a six month enrollment period?

    The ONLY thing that matters is how many have access to healthcare by March 2014. These so called liberal pundits are behaving as if the issues with the site is a crime against humanity.

    The problems will be fixed and if necessary the enrollment period can be extended.

    Pundits like Klein is "Exhibit A" of why it is so difficult for Democrats to get their message out.  Here you have the GOP trying to stage a bloodless coup and all that blowhard can think of doing is handing them more ammunition.

    Absolutely no one should be fired given the level of sabotage perpetrated by the GOP.  

    •  People are expecting coverage on January 1st (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If they can't get it, they need to know that NOW.

    •  He said the first two weeks were a disaster (0+ / 0-)

      said there is a chance to correct

      "Small Businesses Don't Build Levees" - Melissa Harris Perry

      by justmy2 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 01:08:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have to wonder who was making IT decisions? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scott Martin

      Having been in IT for 30+ years now I can't tell you the number of times the IT team has made their analysis and recommendation of the infrastructure required for a particular project only to be overruled by management that has no clue.  "You get way you pay for" is a common phrase for a's true.   A project of the scope of was never going to come off smooth--I could have guaranteed that.  The good news is that if management messed this up as I suspect they did they are now feeling the heat.  My guess is $$$ is flowing to fix the problems.  Sure, Ezra and others can complain about the poor roll-out but this stuff isn't that easy and b*tching and moaning about it after the fact isn't going to solve the problem.  Personally I'm not at all surprised of the glitches.  It's hard to simulate millions of people accessing a website at the same time.  So, it is what it is and let's just hope that management gives the IT team what they need right now to do it right.  I suspect they are....

  •  Hello, tomorrow we start Social Security. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, Minnesota Deb, fargo2413

    Register online  
    I bet it took years or decades to get everyone on Social Security. Now it will take a couple of months to get all the applications. Like I said in another comment, too bad they couldn't use NSA supercomputers, those are being used to keep us safe from TEH TERRORISTS! I am willing to bet it will take a year or more for all the administrative pieces such as dealing with payments from users and to providers to come together.

    "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

    by shmuelman on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 12:52:46 PM PDT

  •  Should have hired Edward Snowden to test it (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure his talent -- finding the rare bugs in programs -- would translate into finding the common bugs.  But he sounds smarter than whoever spent all that money and got a lousy result.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 01:05:20 PM PDT

  •  BULLSHIT! The signup just started and after (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minnesota Deb, fargo2413, JoanMar, sukeyna

    RELENTLESS sabotage, court battles, and arm, leg, and foot dragging by Republicans against the ACA before it even starts how the hell do you expect ANYTHING to run smoothly??!! Give me a fuggin break...

    Goodbye American Dream....

    by Fireshadow on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 02:07:46 PM PDT

  •  Had the Republicans not shut down the government (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dfarrah, ChadmanFL

    this would be the #1 story of October. And we would not be looking very good.

  •  Well at least the lemmings aren't HR you (0+ / 0-)

    As they do in just about every other post related to this topic.  It's perfectly fair and reasonable to critique the very poor implementation of the ACA without opposing the ACA itself.  I spent 2 weeks tearing to fill out my application online and got nowhere.  

    Today I finally gave up and called the gov't hotline.  Even that was a disaster.  It took me a little over an hour on the phone just to get through it.  The girl at the other end was having massive computer problems too and I had to answer all the questions multiple times because she kept laying and getting kicked out of the system.  Finally after getting through the application over the phone she couldn't tell me about any of the plans or what subsidies I will get and simply said to try logging on in 3-6 days for that part.  I mean, seriously?  

    Hell, even my liberal friends and family who were looking forward to the ACA are referring to the federal exchange as the "DMV."  It's a clusterfuck and I hope they fix it within a couple weeks at the latest.

    Intelligence agencies keep things secret because they often violate the rule of law or of good behavior. -Julian Assange-

    by ChadmanFL on Mon Oct 14, 2013 at 06:04:11 PM PDT

  •  Give the Government a break (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    politically indigo

    With 48 million uninsured and millions more underinsured, who actually thinks that, Day One, you can click on a website or dial a number and get what you want with no waiting and no issues.  That's  A LOT of people who need help, who had no options before, and now can finally go to the doctor, thanks to Obamacare.

    I don't need the ACA, but I've waited on the phone, been disconnected, been transferred to reps that don't know what they should, and had to call over and over my regular insurance company, my credit card company, companies regarding a product that wasn't working, etc.

    Millions of people need healthcare. Computer systems overload. The Repubs shut down the gov't (could that have anything to do with it?). Give the government a break. You may have to call a few times. Yes. It will be fine.

  •  On the positive side (0+ / 0-)

    this shows there is a large demand for affordable care even in red states.

  •  So disappointing! WTF is wrong with them?! (0+ / 0-)

    Probably someone has said it...but this is so completely lame given how very important rollout is/ is as if someone sabotaged it.

    I agree that heads, or a head, needs to roll.

    Good for Ezra. People with connections read what he

    I feel sad and frustrated for the people who are in good faith extending their trust, perhaps trepidatiously, to take advantage of this program.

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