Thomas J. Madejski, MD
February 8, 2019
Volume 22 Number 6
I need your help. I need you to join me in Albany March 6th to meet with our elected officials about the health and safety of our patients Click Here to Register! New York Governor Andrew Cuomo @NYGovCuomo has proposed his budget for New York State and the NYS legislature has started budget hearings on a multitude of issues affecting the health and welfare of our patients and our profession. These issues are currently under discussion and MSSNY has provided testimony on a number of items of concern. I’ve indicated to you in some of my previous communications the importance of building relationships with our elected officials in the markedly changed legislative environment during the new session. Our representatives and their staff need to understand the potential effects of their proposals on our patients and families and their constituents.
Our excellent MSSNY legislative staff does a great job in getting information about our greatest concerns to our elected officials. The most critical part of advancing our goals for the betterment of public health and the proper practice of medicine is direct interaction with your personal representatives. March 6th is our best opportunity to demonstrate our care of, and care about, our patients. We have an opportunity to weigh in on reducing maternal mortality, advocating for the care of women and their infants, and to reduce the incidence of exposure to psychoactive substances to our children and young adults. Let me assure you that the situation is fluid, and your individual effort can make a difference in the health of your patients, your satisfaction in your practice, and the health of our communities.
Please sign up to join me in Albany March 6th. Your patients, and our profession, are counting on us.
P.S. I’d be honored if you would also join me in Albany for our MSSNY Council meeting March 5th. Let me know if you’re coming, and any other thoughts you have.
You can follow me on twitter@tommadejski
lux, veritas, virtus– legis plenitudo charitas
Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org; @mssnytweet; @TomMadejski
Thomas J. Madejski, MD
MSSNY Delivers Testimony Highlighting Positives and Negatives of New York State Budget Proposal
MSSNY Senior Vice President and Chief Legislative Counsel Moe Auster delivered testimony this week to a joint Senate-Assembly Committee regarding the healthcare portion of Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2019-20 budget. MSSNY’s testimony applauded the several positive measures included within the budget that MSSNY believes will help physicians provide better care to New Yorkers, while also highlighting a list of issues deemed problematic to the medical community and their patients.
Of note, MSSNY’s testimony noted its support for NYS Executive Budget measures that would: increase the tobacco/e-cigarette purchase age to 21, provide better coverage of care for mental illness and substance abuse treatment, examine ways to prevent maternal mortality, provide stronger regulation of pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs) and extend the Excess Medical Malpractice Insurance program to assist physicians in affording extraordinarily expensive but needed liability insurance coverage.
MSSNY’s testimony also expressed strong concerns with proposals that would legalize the non-medicinal use of marijuana, revoking from doctors the final say in coverage for prescribing medications to their Medicaid insured patients and expansion of the types of practitioners who could treat Workers Compensation patients without addressing the numerous factors that are deterring physician participation in this program. He particularly highlighted the physician community’s strong concerns with a proposal that would significantly cut (an estimate $80 per patient cut) the patient deductible payments that Medicaid makes to physicians who treat patients dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
Mr. Auster answered a variety of questions from the legislative panel, including the physician perspectives on the legalization of non-medicinal marijuana; the regulation of pharmaceutical benefit managers, and perspectives on single payer legislation. (DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS)
Physicians Urged to Oppose Further Dual Eligible Payment Cuts Proposed in State Budget
All physicians are urged to contact their state legislators to urge that they reject a proposal contained in the 2019-20 Executive Budget that would significantly cut the payments that Medicaid makes to physicians to cover the Medicare Part B deductibles of their “dually eligible” patients. You can send a letter in opposition by clicking Here.
You can read MSSNY’s memo of opposition to the Legislature Here.
While the exact cut for each physician would depend on the physician’s patient mix and services provided, we estimate that the cut would be $80 per patient. That is because the 2019 Medicare Part B deductible is $185, and studies show that on average Medicaid only pays 56% of the Medicare fee schedule in New York.
Given that there are hundreds of thousands of patients in New York who are “dually eligible”, for practices that see a large number of dual eligible patients, this will have a profound impact. For example, if a physician’s patient mix includes 500 such dual eligible patients, which could certainly be the case for many types of specialty physicians, that amounts to a decrease of over $40,000 per year – funds that could go toward upgrading electronic health records, hiring additional staff to allow for more time with patients, upgrading facilities or other medical equipment. In past years, physicians have had to absorb significant cuts from Medicaid for the care that they provide to their senior and disabled patients covered by both Medicare and Medicaid, making it much harder for these physicians to deliver community-based care. Please urge your legislators know how unfair this cut is. Please urge them to oppose balancing the state
Medical Liability Reform Bills Introduced in the Assembly
Assemblymembers Robin Schimminger (D-Kenmore) and Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn) each re-introduced legislation this week aimed at reducing the exorbitant cost of medical liability insurance in New York State, and providing more fairness in the resolution of the cases.
In New York, cumulative medical liability payouts far outpace other states. A recent report by Diederich Healthcare showed that, in 2017, once again New York State had far and away the highest number of cumulative medical liability payouts. Claimants in New York were awarded nearly two times more than the state with the next highest amounts, Pennsylvania, and payments in New York far exceeded states such as California and Florida. Moreover, New York had the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita medical liability payouts in the country, about 500% greater than the State of California, which has enacted meaningful liability reforms.
Assemblyman Schimminger’s Medical Liability Reform Act (A.4897) would work to ease the extraordinary liability burden on physicians in New York through the enactment of a number of policy changes, including the following:
- Requiring an affidavit of merit from a NY licensed physician to cut down on the filing of non-meritorious claims;
- Placing a reasonable limit on non-economic damages (there are currently 30 states with some form of a similar cap); and
- Requiring enhanced disclosure of identity of expert witnesses
Assemblyman Abbate’s legislation (A.5018) would require a particularized affidavit of merit to function as a comprehensive vetting of medical malpractice claims prior to commencing of a legal action. Additionally, it would require full and complete discovery of expert witnesses in medical liability actions. (AVELLA, AUSTER)
New York State insurance exchange reports record enrollment numbers
NY State of Health’s open enrollment period ended on January 31, and at that time enrollment in both the Essential Plan and in Qualified Health Plans had increased over last year. Essential Plan enrollment stood at 790,152, up 6.9% over last year meanwhile 271,873 people had purchased Qualified Health Plans, a 7.4% increase compared to the same point last year. In contrast, enrollment dropped by 3.8% in the 39 states that use the federal marketplace. The Essential Plan provides coverage with no deductible and is either free or costs $20 monthly. A family of four earning up to $50,200 qualify and New York and Minnesota are the only two states to offer this option. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the monthly premium for the cheapest individual bronze Qualified Health Plan in NY averages $402 without subsidies and the cheapest gold plan averages $638 per month. NYSOH has stated that 58% of people buying plans qualify for financial assistance. (AVELLA)
Experts Debate New York Health Act
Click here to watch a 2-hour debate of the proposed New York Health Act sponsored by the New York City Bar Association please Click here. Participants in the program included NYS Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, sponsor of the legislation; Eric Linzer, President of the New York Health Plan Association; Bill Hammond, Director of Health Policy for the Empire Center for Public Policy; Dr. Oliver Fein, Chair of the NY-Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Plan; and Ashley Fox, an Assistant Professor at University at Albany. (AUSTER)
Workers Compensation Board Looks at Improvements to the IME Process
This week the initial meeting of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board IME Advisory Committee took place. Among the members of the WCB expert panel was MSSNY Past-President Dr. Robert Goldberg. The group was created pursuant to a provision of the comprehensive Workers Compensation legislation enacted in 2017 that called on the WCB to make recommendations for improving the process by which injured workers receive independent medical examinations. In particular, the statute calls upon the Board to develop recommendations “that will ensure fairness, and highest medical quality, while improving methods of combatting fraud”. For example, one of the major discussion points for the initial meeting this week was examining data that a small number of practitioners had performed an enormous number of IMEs. The group will be meeting throughout 2019 to develop recommendations for improving the IME process with a report due to the Governor & Legislature by year end. (AUSTER)
MSSNY Fights for Funding to Attract and Retain Physicians in NYS
This week MSSNY staff joined representatives from a variety of other health care advocacy groups (including HANYS, NYACP, CHCANYS, the Center for Health Workforce Studies & the Upstate NY Physician Recruiter Network) in numerous meetings with key legislative and executive staff to support increased efforts to address the shortage of physicians in underserved regions across New York State. In addition, two physicians who are Doctors Across New York (DANY) awardees joined the group and shared their stories about how DANY positively affected their lives and ability to practice in New York. Among the notable issues was the request of legislative support of funding for DANY.
DANY is a state funded program launched in 2008 that aims to train and place physicians in areas of New York State where that specialty is most needed. The goal is to ensure adequate funding, streamline the application process and to remove barriers to application. The group is also hoping for increased funding for the Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program (ECRIP) which allows doctors to spend additional time training in research.
Other priorities for the group include funding for the Diversity in Medicine Scholarship; the expansion of the Take a Look Program, which introduces medical students and residents practicing in NYC to Upstate New York and the opportunities available in medicine; and statutory implementation of required data collection for allied health workers. (HARRING, AVELLA)
Senator Rivera Introduces Legislation to Improve Patient Access to be Treated by the Physician of Their Choice
Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the New York State Senate Health Committee, introduced three bills this week that are strongly supported by MSSNY. The bills in question relate to health insurance networks and the interaction between physicians and insurance companies.
- S3461 would require that health insurers cover services provided by out-of-network (OON) providers. OON coverage is not mandated in New York and while exchange officials have “strongly encouraged” insurers to offer this coverage, many New Yorkers do not have this option available. Additionally, many patients are restricted to limited physician networks that do not provide adequate choice of physician to receive their care.
- S3462 would allow in limited instances independently practicing physicians in New York State to conduct some collective negotiations by creating a system under which the state would closely monitor those negotiations, and approve or disapprove such negotiations from going forward. Many areas of New York are dominated by a small number of insurers and this bill would help even the playing field between physicians and insurers.
- S3463 would provide physicians due process protections when health insurers seek to terminate a physician from its network by failing to renew the physician’s contract. Current law prohibits a health insurance company from terminating a physician’s contract without a written explanation of the reasons for the proposed contract termination and an opportunity for a hearing by a panel comprised by three persons including a clinical peer in the same or similar specialty. These provisions, however, do not apply to situations involving the non-renewal of physician contracts. This bill would correct that disparity. (AVELLA)
NYS Senate Commitee to Consider Bill Mandating Patient Education for C-Section; Physician Action Urged
Senate Bill 2888/A.318, sponsored by Senator Julia Salazar and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, would require all physicians and other health care providers to provide all maternity patients with written information as to the risks associated with Cesarean section. This measure is before the Senate Women’s Issues Committee and has already passed the NY State Assembly. The Medical Society of the State of New York & ACOG are opposed to this measure as it interferes with the physician patient relationship by requiring a written communication to every single pregnant women whom the physician recommends a C-Section. MSSNY & ACOG are concerned that a individual patient may have different risk factors and health needs.
Furthermore, the terminology of the bill is not consistent with the typical medical practice. The Medical Society is also troubled by the proliferation here in New York State, and nationally, calling for legislation requiring educational information that physicians will need to cite that pertains to women’s health issues. Nationally, a disproportionate number of these bills apply only to physicians when they are treating pregnant women. Furthermore, states have gagged or coerced physician communications for politicized public health issues.
This measure mandates physicians to provide “a script” that may not comply with the latest medical evidence on Cesarean section. Physicians are urged to contact members of the Senate Women’s Issue Committee which are: Senator Julia Salazar, Senator Betty Little, Senator Shelley Mayer, Senator Anna Kaplan, Senator Catherine Young, Senator Jen Metzger, and Senator James Gaughon. They can be reached through the main senate switchboard at (518) 455-2800 or by sending a letter through the MSSNY Grassroots Action Center at this link please Click here. (CLANCY)
NYS Reproductive Health Act; Governor Discusses Aspects of the Law
The New York State Legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act and it was immediately signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo as Chapter 1, Laws of 2019. The law amended the public health law by codifying the abortion procedure within New York State’s public health law and removing it from the penal law. The same provisions found in Roe v. Wade remain in same. The law creates a statement of purpose and says that an abortion may be performed by a licensed, certified or authorized practitioner acting within their defined scope of practice under Title 8 of the Education Law. Under the new law, an abortion can be performed:
- a) within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy;
- b) at any time, where there is an absence of fetal viability; or
- c) at any time, when necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.
This is consistent with what previous Supreme Court decisions have held.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo this past week wrote an op-ed about the law in the NY Times including responding to comments misinterpreting what the law does. His op-ed can be found Here.
MSSNY has a long standing policy that opposes the criminalization of the exercise of clinical judgement in the delivery of medical care. Moving the abortion procedure from the State Penal law to the Public Health Law is consistent with this position. The law does not expand the current scope of practices for health care providers. It does, however, specify that health care practitioners can perform an abortion if it is otherwise enabled by their current scope of practice as defined under the NYS Education Law. Nurse practitioners are allowed to perform a medicated abortion procedure already under their scope of practice. However, nurse practitioners’ scope does not include “surgery” and cannot perform a surgical abortion. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) District II and the NYS Academy of Family Physicians (NYAFP) supported this measure. MSSNY will be closely monitoring the implementation of the new law to assure health care practitioners are acting within their scope. (CLANCY)
Measles Outbreak in New York State Continues to Spread Webinars Available at MSSNY CME Website
The measles outbreak in New York State continues to spread with at least 186 confirmed cases as of last week. There have been 124 in Rockland County and 62 cases in Brooklyn with one suspected case currently being monitored. While New York State has a statewide vaccination rate of about 90% for Measles, the communities mainly affected by the current outbreak are only at about 60%. MSSNY conducted a just-in-time Medical Matters webinar entitled “The Continued Public Health Threat of Measles 2018” in December, 2018. This webinar has now been posted to the MSSNY CME website.
Additionally, be sure to watch The Importance of Herd Immunity, another Medical Matters posting that delves into how herd immunity works and why it is integral to the elimination of vaccine-preventable diseases. Please check both of these programs out and keep yourself informed about the ongoing measles outbreak throughout New York State and the country. You can also listen to MSSNY’s brief podcast on the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine please Click here. (HOFFMAN, CLANCY)
“What’s Your Diagnosis? Psychological First Aid” Interactive CME webinar February 20, 2019 @7:30am – Registration now open
Be sure to register for the next Medical Matters interactive webinar, What’s Your Diagnosis? Psychological First Aid. This program will include interactive components for participants. You will be asked to answer questions about a case and discussion will follow. Find out if you’re fully prepared to include psychological first aid during an emergency on February 20th at 7:30am.
Registration is open for this program please click Here.
Faculty will be Craig Katz, MD, co-vice chair of MSSNY’s Committee on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster/Terrorism Response.
- Describe the basic tenets of psychological first aid (PFA)
- Identify resources to assist patients during and after trauma
- Describe a scenario and review questions and answers
The Medical Society of the State of New York is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The Medical Society of the State of New York designates this live activity for a maximum of 1.0 AMA/PRA Category 1 credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
(DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS)
Registration Now Open for New Veterans Matters CME Webinars
The Medical Society of the State of New York is proud to announce two NEW Veterans Matters webinars scheduled for February and March 2019. These webinars are: The Special Mental Health Needs of Women Veterans on Thursday, February 28th at 7:30am and Military Culture: Everything Physicians Need to Know About Veterans as Patients on March 14th at 7:30am. Register Here
for The Special Mental Health Needs of Women Veterans, and Register Here.
for Military Culture: Everything Physicians Need to Know About Veterans as Patients.
MSSNY, AMA and Medical Societies Fight to Assure Fair Resolution of Surprise Medical Bills Issue
Led by United States Senator William Cassidy, MD (R-LA), the US Senate has been examining proposals that would address surprise out of network medical bills faced by patients in hospitals, usually the result of being treated by an out of network specialist in the emergency department or other unanticipated care.
Many believe that this is one of the only health care issues in the current Congress that has bipartisan support.
To that end, MSSNY has written to the New York Congressional delegation, urging that any legislation to be considered is consistent with New York’s comprehensive law on the subject enacted in 2014 (see MSSNY’s letter here: http://www.mssnyenews.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/0349_001.pdf). New York’s comprehensive law addressing this issue has been hailed as a model for the rest of the country because of the delicate balance it struck among key health care stakeholders (such as physicians, hospitals and health insurers) to protect patients from large “surprise” medical bills, while at the same time being constructed in such a way that it did not adversely affect the ability of hospital emergency departments to have adequate on-call specialty physician care.
In addition, MSSNY has also joined on to a federation of medicine letter to the US Congress initiated by the American Medical Association along with over 60 other national specialty societies and over 40 other state medical societies urging that the any legislation to be considered by Congress meet a series of key principles. These principles recognize the multitude of factors that can lead to patients facing unanticipated out of network medical bills: including assuring health insurers maintain robust physician networks, assuring health insurers maintain accurate provider directories; assure patients are kept “out of the middle”, and assure that any guidelines or limits on what out-of-network providers are paid should reflect actual charge data for the same service in the same geographic area from a statistically significant and wholly independent database, and not be based on Medicare or in-network rates.
MSSNY physician leaders will be in Washington DC next week along with physician leaders across the country to visit with their respective Congressional delegations on this critical issue and other key health care issues before Congress.
What’s next for DSRIP?
State Department of Health officials said they plan to pursue an additional five-year federal waiver ahead of the expiration of the $7.4 billion Medicaid Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program in April 2020. In the meantime, the governor’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal includes several provisions to advance the DSRIP goal of reducing avoidable hospital use by 25% compared to the state’s baseline in 2015.
So far the state’s 25 Performing Provider Systems—groups of hospitals, physicians, health centers and community organizations—have reduced unnecessary hospitalizations by 17%, said Greg Allen, director of program development and management at the state Department of Health, during a webinar budget briefing.
“Many Performing Provider Systems have been engaged in conversations in what a future DSRIP program could look like,” he said. “Clearly there’s an interest by all stakeholders in continuing the best of what’s happened here. Just about everyone agrees we should ask for renewal.”
Allen noted that several other states have had their federal waivers renewed. He said health care providers’ value-based contracts with insurers were “not quite mature enough” to finance the types of programs providers are pursuing. As part of the budget, the state Department of Health plans to promote best practices from providers that have been able to keep their patients out of the hospital, which it estimates will save $10 million for Medicaid next year. The department also plans to lower Medicaid payments to facilities that have high rates of avoidable hospitalizations. It would use the $5 million it expects in savings to invest in primary, maternity and ambulatory care. (Crains)
SAVE THE DATE: MSSNY’s Annual “Physician Advocacy Day” (3/6)!
With nearly 40 newly elected legislators in Albany, the need for physician advocacy and grassroots involvement is greater than ever. With so much new representation, it’s vital for physicians to forge new relationships, as well as strengthen existing relationships with this new Legislature to ensure the physician community’s message is well-represented.
One opportunity is to participate in MSSNY’s “Physician Advocacy Day” that will be held on Wednesday, March 6th in the Lewis Swyer Theatre in the Egg located at the Empire State Plaza, Albany NY. Click HERE to register!
Join your colleagues from all around New York State and come to MSSNY’s Physician Advocacy Day to speak with your legislators and key policymakers to ensure they’re making the right choices for New York’s physicians and their patients.
Join us to urge your legislators to:
- Proceed very cautiously on paradigm shifting proposals such as legalization of recreational marijuana (proposed in the State Budget) and creating a single payor health insurance structure.
- Reject unfair cuts to physicians treating patients covered by both Medicare and Medicaid;
- Reject proposals that would add prior authorization burdens for care provided to Medicaid patients;
- Support legislation to reduce excessive health insurer prior authorization hassles that delay patient care.
- Reduce the high cost of medical liability insurance through comprehensive reforms.
- Reject burdensome mandates that interfere with patient care delivery.
- Preserve opportunities for medical students and residents to become New York’s future health care leaders.
A brief luncheon to which members of each House are invited to speak with their constituents will follow the morning program. County Medical Societies will be scheduling afternoon appointments for physicians to meet with their elected representatives. (HARRING)
If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Harring: email@example.com.
The event featured a lineup of Manhattan legislators including Assembly Health Chair Dick Gottfried, US Representative Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Senate Health Chair Gustavo Rivera.
Other speakers were New York City Councilman and physician Matthieu Eugene, Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblymember Harvey Epstein. Over 70 physicians from New York County Medical Society and co-sponsoring organizations NY City Psychiatric Society and the New York Council on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry were in attendance to question legislators on everything from single payer, drug formularies, marijuana, and other important physician issues.
Presidents of all three organizations actively participated in the session. According to Dr. Van de Walle, the success of the breakfast was a product of the hard work and dedication of the organizers from all three organizations which included, Cheryl Malone, Meagan O’Tolle, Susan Tucker, Vera Fuer and other dedicated NYCMS staff such as Lisa Joseph. Although representatives from a number of organizations attended the breakfast, the initial feedback was that it was the best Legislative breakfast they had attended to date.
Anthem Tops Fourth Quarter Expectations
The Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem topped fourth-quarter earnings expectations and unveiled a better-than-expected 2019 forecast, helped by an early start for its prescription drug coverage business. Shares of the nation’s second-largest health insurer soared after Anthem said Wednesday that it will start moving customers into its new business in this year’s second quarter, several months ahead of schedule.
The insurer has said that it expects to gain annual savings of more than $4 billion by running its own pharmacy benefit management operation, which it calls IngenioRx.
Anthem initially anticipated a 2020 start for its PBM business, which it will run with help from CVS Health Corp. But it said Wednesday that it was ending its deal with Express Scripts on March 1 due to that company’s recently completed acquisition by another insurer, Cigna Corp. Anthem Inc. covers nearly 40 million people, including those who receive private insurance or benefits from the government-run Medicaid and Medicare programs. (AP 2/7)
Determining Whether Older Medical Professionals Can Competently Perform
The New York Times (2/1) reports that some hospitals are using “mandatory screening procedures” to assess whether medical professionals older than 70 can perform competently, with many of those professionals “unenthusiastic about the idea.” The Times says mandatory screening – generally beginning at age 70 –has already begun at “the University of Virginia Health System, Temple University Hospital and UPMC in Pittsburgh.” Screening generally covers physicians as well as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other roles.
Researchers Find Increasing Risk of Obesity-Related Cancers
The New York Times (2/4) reports on a study published in Lancet Public Health finding that “the risk of developing obesity-related cancer is increasing in successive generations, along with increasing rates of obesity.” Investigators “studied the incidence of 30 of the most common cancers, including 12 that are obesity related, from 1995 to 2014 in people ages 25 to 84 — more than 14.6 million cases.” The investigators “found that for six of the 12 obesity-related cancers (multiple myeloma, colorectal, uterine, gallbladder, kidney and pancreatic) the risk for disease increased in adults 25 to 49, with the magnitude of the increases steeper with younger age.”
E-Cigarettes Outperform Nicotine Replacement for Smoking Cessation
Adults who smoke conventional cigarettes are more likely to quit smoking successfully when they use electronic cigarettes rather than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as a quit aid, according to a randomized trial in the New England Journal of Medicine. Nearly 900 U.K. adults who were looking to stop smoking were randomized to use e-cigarettes or NRT beginning on their quit date. The e-cigarette group was given a starter pack but could then use the product of their choice, while NRT participants could choose their preferred product. All participants also received at least four weekly sessions of behavioral support.
The primary outcome — the rate of abstinence at 1 year confirmed by carbon monoxide levels — favored the e-cigarette group (18% vs. 9.9% in the NRT group).
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