Tag Archives: Affordable Care Act

US healthcare is often compared with the Canadian version. Here are the figures.

Canadian health care cost figures

 

According to the nonpartisan Fraser Institute, many Americans falsely believe that Canadians pay nothing for health care visits. This couldn’t be further from the truth.  A scathing new report just revealed how much Canadians actually pay for their “free” health coverage, and revealed deep problems with the system that Democrats want to force onto Americans.

“Canadians often misunderstand the true cost of our public health care system,” the institute found in a detailed report. “This occurs partly because Canadians do not incur direct expenses for their use of health care, and partly because Canadians cannot readily determine the value of their contribution to public health care insurance.”

In other words, the system seems almost designed to hide costs from the people who pay them. Canadians end up paying through a complex web of taxes at both the national and local level.

A “typical Canadian family of four will pay $12,057 for health care in 2017—an increase of nearly 70 percent over the last 20 years,” explained The Daily Caller, which dug into the Fraser report.  Over a $1,000 per month is hardly “free,” and the costs keep increasing. So do the wait times — and people often forget that having coverage on paper is not the same as receiving timely care.  Wait times for many medical procedures were approaching half a year.

“For all those tax dollars, there is still a long waiting list for a host of operations, both routine and urgent. Another Fraser Institute study recently revealed that 63,000 Canadians left the country in 2016 to seek medical assistance elsewhere — usually the U.S.,” explained the Caller.

According to the Fraser report: “Services are being rationed.  In our last report on wait times in Canada, we discovered that the average wait time from referral to treatment was 20 weeks. That was the longest wait time in the history of our survey.”

It turns out that the socialist model doesn’t work so great in real life. Who knew?

Almost everybody agrees that America’s health care system needs to be overhauled and simplified. Costs are high, the system is complex, and everything only became more confusing with the Affordable Care Act, which is proving itself to be anything but affordable.  Single payer systems are clearly not all they’re cracked up to be.

Canada is often seen as the ideal model… but it would be wise to take a closer look at its flaws.

 

[From an article published by the CONSERVATIVE TRIBUNE]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

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Nineteenth Obamacare co-op folds, leaving only four operating

Minuteman Health of Massachusetts and New Hampshire announced it is withdrawing from the Affordable Care Act exchanges in 2018, leaving only four co-ops in operation. The co-op will stop writing business on January 1 and organize a new company, Minuteman Insurance Company, instead.

The company cited issues with Obamacare’s risk-adjustment program, which is the program that shifts money away from those with healthier customers to those with sicker enrollees. Minuteman Health said that the negative impact of this program had been “substantial.”

“Unfortunately, the program has not worked as intended,” the company said. “It has been difficult for insurers to predict their risk-adjustment obligations, which has led some to withdraw from the ACA market.”

“The program also unfairly penalizes issuers like MHI that are small, low cost, and experience high growth,” the company said. “The significant relative impact from risk adjustment has been the principal driver of a reduction in MHI’s surplus and capital over 2 [sic] time.”

The co-op was able to grow to 37,000 members since it began in 2014 but said that being subject to certain co-op rules made it hard to adjust its business model to mitigate issues with the risk-adjustment program. The co-op was awarded $156.4 million in taxpayer-funded loans in 2012 and 2013.

The new company, Minuteman Insurance Company, will not be subject to these rules.

“Offering our members a quality, more affordable coverage option has been Minuteman’s mission from day one,” said Tom Policelli, CEO of the co-op. “We want to continue that mission in 2018 and beyond through the new company we are currently working to organize. Forming Minuteman Insurance Company will allow us to address numerous federal restrictions and work to make our coverage available to more people.”

There are only four co-ops of the 23 originally created through Obamacare that will still be offering health care plans next year.

 

[From an article by Ali Meyer, published by WASHINGTON FREE BEACON]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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Federal judge blocks Obamacare’s abortion and sex change mandates

A federal judge blocked the Obama administration’s attempt to force doctors and healthcare providers to perform sex change operations and abortions under the Affordable Care Act.

Federal judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, issued a preliminary injunction against the Department of Health and Human Services after it expanded Obamacare’s anti-sex discrimination language to include “gender identity” and “termination of pregnancy.”

The agency’s interpretation would have forced “nearly every healthcare provider in the country” to provide abortions and sex change operations. The court determined that the agency exceeded its authority in drafting the rule and blocked the rule on Dec. 31—just hours before it was to take effect.

 “The regulation violates the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) by contradicting existing law and exceeding statutory authority, and the regulation likely violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) as applied to Private Plaintiffs,” the injunction says.

An HHS spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon that the agency will continue to enforce non-discrimination statutes  “to the full extent consistent with the court’s order.”

The agency proposed its new interpretation of Title IX in September 2015 as Obamacare was being implemented. The agency contended in its May 2016 announcement of the new rules that the expansion of sex discrimination to include abortion and gender identity “clarifies and codifies existing nondiscrimination requirements” in federal law.

However, the court found that such rule-making crossed the bounds of the law as it is written.

“The meaning of sex in Title IX unambiguously refers to ‘the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,’” the court found. “Congress clearly addressed the question at issue by incorporating Title IX’s existing legal structure, and HHS had no authority to interpret such a significant policy decision.”

Franciscan Alliance, Inc., an Indiana-based network of Catholic hospitals, sued the agency, claiming that the statute violated its religious liberty since it would be forced to participate in abortion or sex change operations contrary to the Church’s teaching. Franciscan argued that the agency ignored religious and abortion exemptions that were included in Title IX and said that the agency’s interpretation would force doctors to perform medically unnecessary gender transitions for fear of being accused of discrimination.

The court found that the hospitals’ and doctors’ fear of enforcement action by the federal government “is reasonable.”

“HHS stressed that some procedures ‘related to gender transition’ may be required even if not ‘strictly identified as medically necessary or appropriate,’” the court said in its order. “Private Plaintiffs will be forced to either violate their religious beliefs or maintain their current policies which seem to be in direct conflict with the Rule and risk the severe consequences of enforcement.”

Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arizona also joined the suit, arguing that the federal government overstepped the rights of states to regulate healthcare services provided in public hospitals. Each of those states has laws barring the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion—laws that would have been superseded by the agency’s rules if they were to take effect.

“The Court finds [State] Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they face a substantial threat of irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction,” according to the injunction.

The Franciscan suit is not the only one launched to block the Obama administration’s mandates over abortion and transgender treatment.

The Catholic Benefits Association, which provides insurance coverage to 90,000 people and is administered by Catholic clergy, sued the HHS in December to block the rule in a North Dakota federal court. That suit goes one step further than Franciscan’s in that it asks the court to protect religious employers, as well as religious healthcare institutions and states. CBA general counsel Martin Nussbaum told the Free Beacon that the preliminary injunction bolsters its case against the mandate.

“We framed the CBA lawsuit to address problems under both the 1557 Rule and Title VII and to protect both Catholic medical providers and other Catholic ministries and employers,” he said in an email. “The Franciscan Alliance precedent will be very helpful to us in the CBA litigation. … The reasoning is thorough and quite good on almost every issue.”

 

[From an article published by The Washington Free Beacon]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

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Newest Obamacare failure is a huge one: Penalties of $36,500 per worker

Newest Obamacare failure is a huge one...

Hey, employers, don’t even think about reimbursing your workers’ health-insurance premiums.

Beginning this month, the IRS can levy fines amounting to $100 per worker per day or $36,500 per worker per year, with a maximum of $500,000 per firm.

This Internal Revenue Service penalty is not written into the Obamacare law. The amount is over 12 times the statutory amount in the Affordable Care Act of $3,000 per worker per year. That is what an employer is charged when one of its employees gets subsidized care on one of the health-care exchanges. It’s 18 times the $2,000 penalty for not offering adequate health insurance.

The $100 fine is applicable not only to large firms, but also those with fewer than 50 workers that are exempt from the $2,000 and $3,000 employer penalties. Firms with one worker are exempt. The penalty for S-corporations will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The new rule is broad, sweeping and overly punitive.

This new IRS penalty does not assist in the ACA’s stated goal of expanding health insurance in the United States. Rather, it does the opposite. It discourages people from finding and purchasing the insurance that suits them. It also discourages companies from hiring. Consider that 14% of businesses that do not offer group health insurance have some sort of arrangement to reimburse their employees for insurance costs, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

The administration should be encouraging employers to take on more labor, because many capable people are sitting on the sidelines. On the day after the IRS rule took effect, the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued its Employment Situation Report for June 2015. The report showed that U.S. labor-force participation had declined to a new low, 62.6%, equivalent to levels in October 1977. The drop included prime-age workers, those between 25 and 55, who are normally in the labor market because they generally have finished school and have not yet retired.

Rep. Charles Boustany, a Republican from Louisiana, has introduced the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act of 2015, and Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has a companion bill in the Senate (S.1697). The bills would allow small businesses to use pre-tax dollars to assist employees purchasing insurance in the individual market.

Why has the IRS taken this extreme view? If the employer reimburses an employee for health-insurance premiums, this arrangement is described as an employer-payment plan. The employer-payment plan is considered by the IRS to be a group health plan that has to meet the conditions of Affordable Care Act insurance, including the prohibition on annual limits for essential health benefits and the requirement to provide certain preventive care without cost sharing.

MarketWatch columnist Bill Bischoff explains the new rule as follows. “Employer-payment arrangements have long been a popular way for small employers to help workers obtain health coverage without the hassle and expense of furnishing a full-fledged company health-insurance plan. Under an employer-payment arrangement, the employer reimburses participating employees for premiums paid for their individual health-insurance policies or pays the premiums directly on behalf of participating employees.”

Small employers with a workforce of between 50 and 100 employees are required to offer the more expensive “essential health benefits,” including hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental-health and substance-use disorder services, and pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

In contrast, large employers, those with more than 100 workers, do not have to meet all the generous standards for health-insurance plans offered on the state exchanges, but can offer lesser health insurance and still avoid penalties. The “minimum essential coverage” that large employers have to offer to comply with the law turns out to be substantially less generous than the “essential health benefits” required for plans sold to individuals and small businesses by insurance companies.

Of course, not all employers will choose low-benefit plans. In order to retain workers, many large employers are likely to offer generous plans, and offset the cost by paying a lower cash wage. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that benefits account for 32% of compensation packages, with cash wages responsible for the remainder. However, low-benefit plans are likely to be attractive to employers with low-skill workforces in the restaurant, retail, and leisure and hospitality industries.

Although large employers can legally offer low-benefit plants, small employers are not allowed to do so. This leads to an extraordinary discrepancy in potential tax payments between small and large employers. Hence, they face both higher costs for insurance and higher tax penalties if they fail to offer such insurance.

The Boustany-Grassley bill is focused on small businesses, but it makes sense to allow individuals in large companies to choose less expensive options. Health-insurance premiums are rising substantially. Oregon’s health-insurance commissioner has just approved raises of 25% to 33% for Moda Health Plan and Lifewise, affecting over 220,000 people. Other health-insurance companies nationwide are asking for increases in the same range, and insurance commissioners are deciding whether to approve them.

Even the least expensive plans on the health exchanges, termed bronze plans, feature deductibles that are prohibitive for many. The average deductible on a bronze plan is $5,000 for a single person and $11,000 for a family, according to HealthPocket, a research firm.

Businesses need to take a stand against this new IRS power grab. As Americans search for low-cost ways to stay insured, it makes sense for the government to give employers more options, rather than fewer.

 

[by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, writing for MARKETWATCH]

 

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  Mr. O strikes again! Isn’t it wonderful, having a guy in the White House who continues to find new and exciting ways to harm his fellow citizens and the US economy?

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

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Support for Obamacare at all-time low on eve of its collapse…

Searching through the media, it’s become very difficult to find positive reports on Obamacare that actually report the truth. There are still those reports that claim that the number of uninsured Americans is at an all-time low, but like reporting on unemployment, they purposely neglect the figures that undermine their report.
A few months ago I saw some reports that tried to say that voter support for Obamacare was up significantly. But that was before the announcements of much higher rates, the closing of at least one state run exchange and policy holders started getting outrageous bills from the federal government wanting them to pay back some or all of their federal subsidies.

The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll reveals that only 39% of registered voters still back the Affordable Care Act. This ties the record low support from back in April of 2012. A year ago, only 48% of registered voters said they opposed the Affordable Care Act and now that figure has increased to 54% opposition.

Perhaps the weakening support and growing opposition has been sparked by the rate increases being requested in many states as reported by Michael D. Tanner:

“Already we’ve seen requests for increases for individual plans as high as 64.8 percent in Texas, 61 percent in Pennsylvania, 51.6 percent in New Mexico, 36.3 percent in Tennessee, 30.4 percent in Maryland, 25 percent in Oregon, and 19.9 percent in Washington. Those increases would come on top of premium increases last year that were 24.4 percent above what they would have been without Obamacare, according to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. At the same time, deductibles for the cheapest Obamacare plans now average about $5,180 for individuals and $10,500 for families.”

Another sign that Obamacare is failing and on the verge of collapse is how few enrollees there really are, especially compared to the goals set by the White House. Again, turning to Tanner:

 “New evidence also suggests that Obamacare is struggling to meet its goals for covering the uninsured. According to a report in Investor’s Business Daily, the Obama administration estimates that roughly 10.2 million people have enrolled in Obamacare plans and paid at least one month’s premium. This meets the White House’s revised sign-up goal announced late last year, though it falls below the Congressional Budget Office’s earlier projections. The CBO had originally projected some 12 million sign-ups through 2015, later lowering that estimate to 11 million. So, while we should recognize that Obamacare has significantly increased coverage, there clearly is a long way to go.”

“A very long way, in fact. The CBO still hopes for 21 million enrollees next year, which would mean more than doubling current sign-up levels. Anyone see that happening? But failure to meet those numbers would mean that Obamacare would continue to flirt with the possibility of an adverse-selection ‘death spiral,’ which could take down the entire insurance market. Already, insurance companies are warning that exchange enrollment is weighted too heavily toward sicker and older patients. And the Republican Congress is unlikely to renew bailouts designed to protect insurance companies from such adverse selection.”

“Of course, these numbers do not count the nearly 7 million people who signed up for Medicaid because of Obamacare’s expansion of the program. But given the increasing evidence that Medicaid provides dubious value in terms of health outcomes, how this will affect federal and state budgets remains an open question. To cite just one example, getting poor people enrolled in Medicaid was supposed to reduce the strain on overburdened emergency rooms, by steering patients toward primary and preventive care. But the low physician-reimbursement rates under Medicaid mean that few physicians will treat Medicaid patients. As a result, emergency-room visits have actually increased under Obamacare.

“Very soon the Supreme Court will rule on Obamacare’s subsidies. But for the law as a whole, the verdict is already in. By almost any measure, Obamacare is a failure.”

If you search the media, you will find far more reports echoing the words of Tanner, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, than echoing the hollow chatter of die-hard loyalists like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. No matter what they keep trying to tell us, the facts indicate that Obamacare is on the verge of collapse due to extremely high premiums and deductibles, fewer subsidies and fewer enrollees. The program had to have a high number of young healthy people enroll and the opposite is true. The nails in the Obamacare coffin are being hammered in and will soon be ready for burial. Then it’s up to the Republicans to come up with a real workable and affordable solution.
[by Dave Jolly, writing for Godfather Politics]

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  Looks like the Affordable Care Act is proving to be anything but affordable.
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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by
NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

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Obamacare’s tax shock is far worse than predicted…

Are we still calling it “healthcare reform?”  Average payback is $729…from families with modest incomes who qualified for subsidies. Average uninsured penalty also almost double the $95 stated amount. Obama obviously still telling America what it wants to hear, without bothering to confirm facts…

Obamacare. Even worse than we thought.Providing still more evidence of how Obamacare is “working,” most enrollees learned this year that they had to pay back a huge chunk of their insurance subsidies. So much for “affordability.”

Back in January, H&R Block figured that about half of the 6.8 million people who were getting Obamacare subsidies would owe some of the money back. Another expert reckoned the average payback at $208.

That was enough to set off alarms about the “unpleasant tax surprise” these millions would face. The tax experts were too optimistic, however. H&R Block now figures that two-thirds of Obamacare enrollees who got subsidies had to pay at least some of it back. And the average payback was $729.

So roughly 5.5 million Obamacare enrollees had to return, on average, almost a quarter of their premium subsidies. Given that these subsidies are available only to families with modest incomes, that’s got to hurt.

(H&R Block also found that a quarter of Obamacare enrollees got an average of $425 in additional tax credits for last year.)

Why all the subsidy mistakes? Because Obamacare uses a Rube Goldberg subsidy scheme that requires enrollees to predict next year’s income. If they guess too low, their insurance subsidies will be too high. Overestimate their income and the subsidies will be too low.

H&R Block also found that the average penalty paid by the uninsured last year was $178. That no doubt was also a surprise to many who thought it would be just $95.

In addition, the vast majority of filers who claimed an exemption from the individual mandate penalty picked from a list of exemptions that didn’t require verification from their local Obamacare exchange.

Unfortunately, H&R Block didn’t break down what share of the uninsured claimed an exemption instead of paying the fine. That would provide a good insight into the effectiveness of the individual mandate.

But it did say more taxpayers are likely to seek those exemptions next year when filing their 2015 income taxes, since the penalty for not buying government-approved insurance goes up sharply this year.

If Obamacare’s popularity doesn’t climb much this year, it’s a good bet these unpleasant tax surprises will be part of the reason.

[A recent editorial from Investor’s Business Daily]

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NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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The same people who said “sign up or pay a fine” when they brought you their wonderful Obamacare program are now insisting they should control your Internet, too…

If you like your Internet, you can keep your Internet. Sounds uncomfortably familiar…

FCC Chairman Wheeler would only release a four-page summary of the plan. Under the guise of something dubiously called “net neutrality,” Barack Obama’s FCC is promising to use its heavy hand to “regulate” the Internet so that its use is “fair.”

We’re being told not to worry… nothing in the secret 332-page plan should be a cause for alarm and if you like your Internet, you can keep your Internet.

Fortunately, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has actually seen the 332-page edict and we’ll let his warning speak for itself:

First, President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works. It’s an overreach that will let a Washington bureaucracy, and not the American people, decide the future of the online world.

       Second, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet will increase consumers’ monthly broadband bills. The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband. Indeed, states have already begun discussions on how they will spend the extra money.

       Third, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet will mean slower broadband for American consumers. The plan contains a host of new regulations that will reduce investment in broadband networks. That means slower Internet speeds.

       Fourth, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet will hurt competition and innovation and move us toward a broadband monopoly. The plan saddles small, independent businesses and entrepreneurs with heavy-handed regulations that will push them out of the market. As a result, Americans will have fewer broadband choices. This is no accident. Title II was designed to regulate a monopoly. If we impose that model on a vibrant broadband marketplace, a highly regulated monopoly is what we’ll get. We shouldn’t bring Ma Bell back to life in this dynamic, digital age.

       Fifth, President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet is an unlawful power grab. Courts have twice thrown out the FCC’s attempts at Internet regulation. There’s no reason to think that the third time will be the charm. Even a cursory look at the plan reveals glaring legal flaws that are sure to mire the agency in the muck of litigation for a long, long time.

And sixth, the American people are being misled about what is in Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet. The rollout earlier in the week was obviously intended to downplay the plan’s massive intrusion into the Internet economy.

You read that right. New taxes… less choice… slower Internet speeds…and that’s just for starters.  Obama’s entire philosophy about government — because that’s all he’s ever done, is work at a government job — is very simple. In a nutshell, it’s this: “Government always knows best…and when I’m in charge of the government, I always know best.”

Socialism For The Internet

That’s what Seton Motley, the president of Less Government and an expert on the subject, calls it.  Motley adds: “It’s an assault on the industry to effect an ideological outcome” so “the government will be able to pick winners and losers.”

       Washington Times columnist and syndicated radio talk show host Tammy Bruce goes a step further and claims: “The Internet must be killed because it dares to keep turning on the light in a room that the left wants to remain dark.”   Bruce goes on: “This would be done to make the Internet more ‘fair,’ of course. But the truth of the matter is it’s an excuse to essentially nationalize the Internet. The moment that’s accepted, all bets are off….”

       Senator John Thune says: “It is a power grab for the federal government by the chairman of a supposedly independent agency who finally succumbed to the bullying tactics of political activists and the president.”

       But radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh may have said it best: “[D]o you want the people who gave you Obamacare running your Internet service? Do you want them in charge of what you can get and when you can get it and how much it’s gonna cost you?”

[from PATRIOT UPDATE]

 

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  If you use the Internet, you already know how expensive it can be NOW.  The same liar who told you that his new healthcare plan was going to “save the average family $2500 a year” wants you to believe he has your best interests at heart as he takes over the Internet.  Once the US government controls the Internet, do you think it will possibly get cheaper? And better? And faster? Not a chance! As painful as it is to say, the US government does not know how to get out of its own way, even when it’s NOT lying!  So far, everything Obama has touched has gotten worse.  Huge budget deficits. The military situation in the Middle East. Astronomical increases to federal debt…which American citizens are legally responsible for paying. A healthcare program that individuals and businesses all hate because it takes away everyone’s ability to choose, and it costs lots more, not less. Obamacare was presented — sold — with malice and with lies.  Deliberate lies. We were just too stupid to be told the truth, remember? And you think that same White House is going to tell you the truth now about its plan to control the Internet? You don’t think there is probably a very good reason that Obama and his FCC have not released the text of his takeover plan?  Obamacare was all about controlling US citizens by controlling their health care options.  The Internet takeover plan is just more of the same.

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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