Question of the Week: Do the Pitfalls Outweigh the Promise For the New Healthcare Reform Program?

[Editor's Note: We were surprised and pleased with the number of responses we received to the inaugural installment of our new "Money Morning Question of the Week" feature. The responses were noteworthy for their insights, and the passion with which the views were presented. Make sure to check out next week's question. Let your "vote" be heard.]

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When U.S. President Barack Obama signed the new healthcare-reform bill into law yesterday (Tuesday), it ended months of political bickering and maneuvering, and began a new chapter in the nation's healthcare saga – one in which the country will feel the effects of this sweeping, costly and controversial policy overhaul.

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The fact is that many Americans will have healthcare for the first time ever. Offsetting that bright spot, however, is the reality that the program could add trillions in debt to the country's already burgeoning national debt, further complicating the matter.

Going forward, it will now be left to the pundits, analysts and the healthcare industry to decipher what these provisions really mean for the industry, for individuals, for taxpayers – and even for investors.

But here at Money Morning, we wanted to know what you think about this new law. That's why we made healthcare reform the inaugural topic in our new "Question of the Week" feature.

Money Morning Question of the Week: U.S. President Barack Obama's controversial healthcare proposal is now law. What do you think? How do you feel? Do you think it's a beneficial or harmful move for you as a consumer, as an investor, and as a taxpayer? What do you think it means for our nation's economy?

What follows is a sampling of the enthusiastic and passionate responses that we received. Make sure to also check out next week's "Question of the Week," a query that seeks your thoughts on the growing levels of U.S. debt.


You're Fired!

Attention: Elected Honorable Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress.

If you voted for this HealthCare legislation … you're fired, as of the next election! Your service to our country is no longer wanted or needed. We will vote you all out of office.

Moreover, we will seek to pass legislation to take away your government healthcare package, and your lifetime retirement benefits, so you will be just like the rest of us. You are not SPECIAL; you are not entitled to anything that every other American citizen is not entitled. You are not smarter than the rest of us. You are not going to get by with this sleight of hand politically inspired and instigated legislation for socialized medicine. Shame on you!

Americans hate what is going on and we are aware. Politicians … beware!

This legislation is not about healthcare – it is a tax!

I will actively campaign against reelection for every senator and representative who voted to pass this despicable legislation.

This healthcare legislation is not about improving health care for Americans and non-Americans living here; it is about control of people living in the USA. We want our Constitutional rights and freedom to choose back.

Only the states have the power to mandate legislation imposing citizens to do anything; not the federal government. The federal government has no statutory authority to force citizens to pay for health insurance. This is a form of federal taxation (anytime something is compulsory as opposed to voluntary, it is a tax and not a contribution).

Good-bye Big Brother. Go somewhere else. President Obama … inflict your socialism upon people who want it. Americans don't.

- Heidi Wurst, Wichita, KS

We're Finished…

President Obama's healthcare plan will bankrupt the country. You cannot have finite resources (money) and infinite demand for expensive medical services.

– MD in Tennessee

A Malodorous Proposal?

Who is not covered by the Healthcare Bill? Will the president be covered? His staff? If not, why not? After all, the president proclaimed this program's greatness. What about Congress?

If people are not working, how will they pay for – or buy – health insurance?

Something smells …

– Terree

A Good Start

Thank God … now I have a chance. I had no chance before. We now have a foot in the door. It's a good place to start.

- Viola

Question of the Week Chart

Are We Moving Forward?

I lived 30 years in a Communist regime and I believe the democratic and capitalist systems are the best. But I will say that under the Communist regime I didn't have problems with health insurance and I had access to free education and the university, too. In school, there was competition, but even a poor student could go to the university. But now?

- Felicia Popa

Bad Law/Big Lie

This is a bad law that could have been done better. An incremental approach that unfolded over several years would have been much better for Americans. Tort reform wasn't even considered. Taxes go nowhere but up over time. Somehow this country became the beacon for people all over the world without these healthcare laws. Now the Democrats tell us it's a "right." Where does this [stuff] end? This law subsidizes poor behavior and irresponsibility. To say the Healthcare Bill is a deficit-reduction plan is the biggest lie I've ever heard.

- John R.

It's Time to Take Care of Everyone

I think it is a good start. We should have had it long ago, I know the Republicans hate it, but they didn't hate the surplus [President George H.] Bush gave them when he came into office, or the two huge tax cuts that would have just about covered the cost of the new healthcare program.

We should take care of all our people and how can we turn our backs on them.

-Robert Gifford

A Scary Turning Point

We have reached a turning point in this nation and unless we turn back soon, we will see a transformation that will cost every American their freedom. We have been traveling this road for years, but this administration is propelling us toward socialism at warp speed. The new healthcare legislation creates disincentives to work, disincentives to invest and disincentives to start or grow a small business.

I worked seven days a week for 35 years to obtain what I have. I worked two jobs, while raising kids. I worked jobs that no one else would take. I lived in travel trailer with two kids for eight years. I know what it is like to do without. I ate canned food, wore thrift store clothes. My kids didn't wear disposable diapers: I couldn't afford them. I didn't have a washer and dryer. I washed my clothes in the bathtub and hung them out on tree limbs in my yard.

Yet through it all I was never on the public dole. I grew my own food rather than ask for a handout. I have paid my taxes and paid my bills. I never made stupid choices. All my life, I have lived within my means. I worked very hard to have what I have. I do not want to give what I have worked for to someone who won't take a menial job and thinks they deserve something for nothing.

For many years, I didn't have health insurance. Contrary to "popular opinion," healthcare coverage is not a right. It must be earned, just like a paycheck. I do agree that certain aspects of the healthcare bill are warranted and necessary. However, the bulk of the bill is a power grab aimed to redistribute the wealth of us Americans who have worked and struggled to get ahead.

I know what it is like to struggle and I have a heart for those in need. I currently give away 20% of my income to the needy, sponsor nine children in Third World countries and donate my personal time and energy to help the less fortunate. I donated the finances to drill 10 water wells in India.

I am not stingy. I have taken one vacation in my 36 years of marriage. I spend my disposable income to help others. I worked very hard for my money and I want to choose who I help and when. I do not need the government telling me how to spend my money or my time. But as we all know, the healthcare legislation has nothing to do with helping Americans, and everything to do with government control. Yes, Terree [see earlier note from another reader], something does smell … and I am mad as hell!

I hope Americans have enough common sense to boot these power-mongers out of office – ASAP!

- Kat

Absolutely Against It

I am absolutely against it. I don't understand: Why change a working system for maybe 30% of the uninsured and hurt 70% of those who are reasonably happy with their insurance? Also, they didn't include interstate selection and legal limits to control awards of litigants. The whole bill reeks of political corruption, and is not bi-partisan. This is as un-American as it can get.

Why was it necessary to create a disaster for 30% of uninsured versus 70% of people with health insurance who are satisfied? Why was this bill missing an interstate insurance selection? Why was it missing a tort reform,which several states already have on their books? In fact, we don't have a representative government anymore! This bill is as un-American as it can get!

- Seymour Berlin

Good for the Economy

While it is important to prevent the nightmare cases where critically ill people were literally killed by the discontinuation of treatment due to insufficient funds, it is a human-rights abuse to force health insurance on the public under penalty of a fine. This is particularly true, since many do not want the degrading medical examinations some health-insurance providers may want.

At the end, President Obama let the cat out of the bag: It is a big health service saving! There he is right – it's good for the economy.

- Inez A.

[Editor's Note: Is there a topic you want to see covered as a "Question of the Week" feature? Then let us know by e-mailing Money Morning at mailbag@moneymappress.com. Make sure to put the words "question of the week suggestion" in the subject line. We reserve the right to edit responses for length, grammar and clarity.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to participate - via e-mail or by posting their comments directly on the Money Morning Web site. Check out next week's question - posted above - about the growing federal debt load.]

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  1. Erika Matt | March 31, 2010

    The health care reform does not solve the real problems of the U.S. system, which is run by the pharmaceutical, health insurance industry and by doctors educated by the pharmaceutical industry who turn into distributors of the pharmaceutical industry. In most instances nature is doing a much better job than the pharmaceutical industry. If doctors used natural products they would help people. These days they just cover up symptoms, make wrong diagnoses and kill people. In this country $100,000 or so is spent killing a cancer patient, in Germany a cancer patient is cured for the price of a used Honda. Reagan knew it and that is why he went to Germany. I am utterly disgusted with the situation in this country.

    • Ken | April 4, 2010

      Largely true. Doctors are trained in "traditional" "pharmaceutical" medicine. Obamacare continues this trend.
      I can attest first-hand that atherosclerosis can be addressed successfully. My mammary by-pass was occluded. After 31 I.V. treatments at $135 done weekly, the plaque was gone. Compare that to $50,000+ for by-pass surgery…or what they charge to put in a stent.

      Rather than making more people dependent on government (Democrats), which is what Obamacare is really about, the major costly health issues could be addressed in a rational effective "non-traditional" way.
      However, healthcare costs cannot be controlled as long as 17-20 million illegal aliens do not pay for their healthcare services.
      Until we solve that problem, there is no cost-effective solution.
      Question for everyone: "What is the last major disease for which there was a major fund raising campaign that resulted in a cure?" Do you think those "researcher bureaucrats" really want to get thrown out of a job by curing diabetes, cancer, MS, etc.?
      If so, I would like to sell you some ocean-front property in Kansas.

  2. Dave Colonel | March 31, 2010

    Comment from Canada. Public health care in Canada was like a working stiff family buying a new Cadillac. When the car was shiny new, it worked great, but, as it aged, and everyone in the family kept it in non-stop use, it began to wear out.
    Soon the repairs to the car became so all consuming that nobody could hardly afford them. So, this made long waits available for many family members before the old girl was usable for them. Then, the car often broke down when it was most needed. Eventually, some members, to get a decent early ride, just had to go out and spend their own money to buy or hire a new car for themselves-besides still paying for repairs to the "family car."
    Right now, Big Daddy is in a huge fluster, because he says it is becoming just too expensive to keep this forty-five year old Cadillac on the road . What will replace it, or how will it be repaired, without totally bankrupting the family?
    Nobody knows, or will not yet admit the truth. That is what you face in America.

  3. Charles Freitag | March 31, 2010

    An unmitigated disaster–a power grab under the guise of help. Congress and this president are tone deaf to the American people. Those who passed this bill against our will should be removed from office. We need to stop the mindless march to socialism and fiscal ruin.

  4. Daniel | March 31, 2010

    We call politicians liars but we repeat their statements word by word. Fortunately, this healthcare bill doesn’t satisfy anyone. One thing sure is that it will make health insurance companies bigger and fatter.
    Regardless whether health care is a right or a privilege, the current health insurance in US is unsustainable for those who are insured. Forget the 40-50 mil Americans who are uninsured; the problem is that those who are insured will not be able to afford coverage in the future. The trend is to shift cost from employer to employees, from the government to its citizens (remember the donut hole in 2006 medicare bill). The trend is to reduce benefits, increase premiums or both, and of course deny treatment or delay it whenever possible.

    Moreover, this bill doesn’t change the status quo; regardless what venom the Republicans spit, it doesn’t change your existing insurance or turn US into a Communist state. Regardless what Democrats brag about, it is still a health INSURANCE bill and not a health CARE bill and it is filled with so many holes that make insurance executive laugh all the way to the bank.

    This bill is a combination of good and bad package. At least it is a step in the right direction: a broken Greece has better health coverage than US.

    http://www.actuary.org/pdf/medicare/med_reform_feb10.pdf
    February 2010. American Academy of Actuaries
    Actuaries Urge Comprhensive Medicare Reform
    Medicare faces serious financial challenges that require comprehensive reforms to the program now to avoid the need for even more drastic actions in the future. The American Academy of Actuaries supports efforts by the President and Congress to address these challenges and urges action to restore the long-term solvency and financial sustainability of Medicare….

  5. Vincent F. Celli | March 31, 2010

    There definitely are pitfalls, but I believe the healthcare bill is a start, although a rocky one. With the present congress exhibiting less wisdom than the typical high school sophomore, there may be problems down the road.

    It is apparent that our economic engine recently blew up and we can't continue doing the same thing going forward. Watch reform of the financial system. If we get meaningful reform the way ahead will be a lot brighter.

  6. Gerald Loban | March 31, 2010

    I live in Canada but my son works in the Health Care industry in Florida. I recently had to undergo Bypass surgery and my son came up to help my wife. He indicated that this procedure would have cost some $180,000 in Florida and was also most impressed with the hospital where I had the surgery being on that specialises in cardiac cases with a world class reputation. I did not have to worry about costs or going bankrupt as a result of medical costs. From what I have seen of the Health Insurance Reform legistration, it is comes across as a fight between the American people and the Insurance companies who would lose some of their excessive profits. The opposition is nothing to do with the welfare of the people. The United States is the only country in the developed world that does not have a government funded health care system and it is seen by other countries as a disgrace for the wealthiest country in the Western world not to look after its people. Canada is just one of the countries that do fund health care. We are not a Socialist country. I can chose my doctor and do not have to do what an HMO or any other agency dictates. If my doctor prescribes a treatment, I receive it. My son was refused tests by his insurance company for no apparent reason. Although he was totally down on the Canadian system, after his own experience and seeing the treatment I received here, he soon changed his mind. The total opposition to health care insurance reform in the US would appear to be driven purely by the insurance companies. The Republican party supports big business. Not to forget that it is this same big business that created the current financial crisis. I am non political and support no political party. I am just stating what I and very many others have observed.

  7. BD IN CALIFORNIA | March 31, 2010

    It is very hard to understand why people think that corporate control of healthcare is OK, that it is all right to let for-profit corporations decide who will live and who will die and that remedying this is unconstitutional. I guess this is in line with the Supreme Court's ruling that corporations are people with unlimited right to influence our political process. Those who believe that 70% of the population are content with their insurance are living in a state of denial because even people with health insurance often cannot afford health care due to high deductibles, co-pays or limits on coverage. One half of bankruptcies stem from inability to pay medical bills and the majority of the affected were employed. Almost all capitalist countries have figured out how to offer their citizens affordable high quality health insurance that is far less expensive than we currently pay in the US.

  8. Yves Millette | March 31, 2010

    What is worst for USA.

    Health care that will probably be empowered by bureaucrats or finance mafia that dictates finance behaviours out of political influence.

    USA has just gone through a financial crisis for which all American citizens still suffer but the finance sector, the initiator. Is this is free enterprise or depraved capitalism above USA political power.

    Health care at least is under political control. We may have no faith in politician’s decision foreseeing the best for citizens but at least they react when clearly disapproved by population (not 50-50). They can redirect bureaucrat whom will most probably take control of the health care.

    Bureaucrat controls is never for the best long term. It drifts out of the benefit of the population based on what is happening in countries already served by public health care. Bureaucrat – nursing ratio will increase, efficiency will shrink. At least politicians can react.

  9. Gerald | March 31, 2010

    I don't feel comfortable with this very expensive bill turned into an entitlement by force feeding the lawmakers into concurrance of a majority without attention to the voting citizens who will have to pay for it. Even admitted that they themselves were not sure of what was in it totally.

    Agian the powers that be overrode the questions of their own constiutuents in impressing this very ciritical and expensive law upon all – children, middle and lower classes, aged, healthy and infirm – without considering the long term impact on the general welfare of the whole society far into the future. There is much self serving arrogance here.

  10. Dave R. | March 31, 2010

    To me the biggest problem with the HC law is what is not known about that law or the many committees that will be empowered to implement it. Congress didn't care to inform itself or its constituents, nor did President Obama. And they all went against the expressed will of a significant majority of USA citizens according to multiple polls. For that, I consider none of those who pressed forward with enactment of this law worthy of their public offices or the benefits they set up for themselves as the royal class of USA. The only logical reasonable expectation is that there will be more corruption in the implementation and application of the provisions of the new HC law. It appears to be mostly about control and increased taxation to increase federal revenues rather than to extend and improve HC or HC insurance for USA citizens.

  11. Lee Barash | March 31, 2010

    I'm a doctor's widow and a doctor's mother. Medicaid pays so little it doesn't cover the cost of billing. My Canadian friends love their system. Everyone gets care eventually although there may be a considerable wait if the problem is not life threatening. Several European countries seem to be able to supply medical care to all their systems. Here, the insurance companies do very well, doctors whose procedures are not covered (e.g. plastic surgery) or do not accept medicare do very well but it's hard to make a living on medicare fees especially in expensive cities. I haven't heard of any insurance companies going under lately.

  12. Caterina Pryde | March 31, 2010

    I am delighted we passed the bill, even if it has some flaws. Not one of the people who complained about it has ever been turned down. I had the earliest stage of the least recurring cancer, and I've been turned down for individual insurance ever since- even after 10 yrs. I have the money, happy to pay for it, but I can't get it. This bill will really help people. Almost all the other first and second tier nations have national health care, we're the only ones without. Now let's go further, get torte reform, impose some restrictions and more clinical testing requirements on the pharma companies and keep improving it for every one.

  13. Ali | April 1, 2010

    This bill is a huge power grab and a giant leap toward socialism. We absolutely must
    vote out every single congress person who voted for it. The will of the people has been totally disregarded, and the shove-it-down-their-throats attitude of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid troika shows what they think of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Our constitution has been shredded, trampled and spit upon.

    Notwithstanding multiple generations of our descendants being saddled with this gargantuan debt, the illegals being covered at the expense of our seniors due to huge cuts in Medicare, the expanded tentacles of a mega bureaucracy, no one has addressed the impossibility of maintaining our individual privacy. No way can our individual and personal medical records be kept private when they must be funneled into Washington for some callous committee to deem our worthiness to receive care.

    The people, sadly, have a very short memory. We must keep this at the forefront of our minds until November when we can be rid of these socialist tyrants. We must not forget to vote these clowns out. If we don’t, we are at the tipping point, and maintaining the status quo will be like pouring gasoline on the socialist takeover fire.

  14. Craig Thomas | April 2, 2010

    In our Canadian health care plan DR. visits are free.But here now everyone with a sore finger runs to the DR then he gives you another appointment to come back and he keeps you coming back so he can keep billing the healthcare system for all these needless visit We need to have a 25$ or more fee to stop this running to the DR for nothing.This is part of the reason health care is so expensive

  15. Craig Thomas | April 2, 2010

    In our Canadian health care plan DR. visits are free.But here now everyone with a sore finger runs to the DR then he gives you another appointment to come back and he keeps you coming back so he can keep billing the health care system for all these needless visit We need to have a 25$ or more fee to stop this running to the DR for nothing.This is part of the reason health care is so expensive

  16. Fred | April 4, 2010

    I cannot decide whether I am for it or against it because I have yet to see a single discussion on the fact WE ARE ALREADY PAYING FOR THESE UNINSURED PEOPLE UNDER THE CURRENT SYSTEM. The uninsured go to the emergency room and it is illegal to refuse them. Therefore, the hospital must incur the costs which is then passes on to people with insurance and the government. There is a reason a sterile sponge costs you $15 when you go to visit your new baby in the obstetrics wing. I would like some experts to take this fact into their analysis or all the dozens and dozens of article I have read are useless to help me generate an opinion.

  17. Bill Goode | April 4, 2010

    I resent that the Federal government should have any involvement in my personal healthcare. They are not doctors. There is nothing the federal, state, county or city governments can do to contribute to my personal healthcare. It is between me and my doctor, or other healthcare provider as I so choose, to determine the best path for my healthcare. Doctors do not engage in governing the country. By the same token, those governing should get out of the doctor business.

    For that matter, they should get out of the commerce business, labor business, education business and housing business as well.

  18. Frank | April 4, 2010

    The Simplest and MOST Workable Solution:
    MAKE ALL Goverment Persons from the TOP DOWN (ALL 3 Constitutional Branches) REQUIRED BY LAW to have ONLY their OWN Personal & Family Healthcare exactly as mandated by this new (and subsequently "corrected") Healthcare Bill.
    It is absolutely incredible that almost ALL of these "Governemt Persoms" have, essentially, gone On-Record as demanding that They want Their own Healthcare to be what They already HAVE as USA Government Employees…
    and NOT the Healthcare They have just passed into LAW!!!

    Somehow "they" already decided in advance THAT Their New "Healthcare Law" is "too Expensive" and/or otherwise "Flawed" Healthcare for Them, but NOT for all the rest of us USA Citizens!

    OK… Under the above proposed Mandate: Get to WORK and CORRECT any and all of its Problems (ie: make them their OWN! and ours will get "corrected" in the process!)

  19. John | April 4, 2010

    People are still confused over "Being able to purchase Health Insurance" and the ability to obtain "Health Care". It has been a federal law for ~30 years that anyone can get FREE health care at any emergency room in the US. Many, many people are aware of this fact. Why should the masses purchase Health Insurance when they can get free health care. Visit any emergency room on the West coast and see who is lining the waiting room.

    This law has so many flaws that we will never find them all. The only recourse is to fire everyone who passed this bill. But as a friend of mine on the East Coast said, the elected officials only vote. The position papers are prepared by the staffers, who went fired by the outgoing person, will just walk down the hall and work for the new person.

  20. Marion Kenney | April 4, 2010

    We all have our opinion about the health care bill. Like everything else in life, it has some

    good and bad points. Keep your anger under control because TIME is the only true

    judge of everything. Vote for Congressmen/women who really seem to care

    about us and this great country. Too many vote for how a person looks rather than

    who they are, what they truly stand for and how their voting record measures up

    to what they say.

  21. Erwin JaY | April 4, 2010

    First, it is important to remember, "Whenever anybody gets something that THEY did not pay for, this means that SOMEONE ELSE had to pay for it and they did not get it." What about THEIR rights?
    I do believe that there should be free clinics for anybody who is at the poverty level or really unable to pay for healthcare. I also would like to see CONGRESS forced to accept the SAME coverage that they want tax payers to settle for.
    As a provider of vision care for a long time, I am amazed that most people who have vision care do not even know WHAT they have and their own benefits. Perhaps now they will begin to read their own policies. The best consumer is an INFORMED consumer.

  22. Richard Chambers | April 4, 2010

    The obstructions put in the way of the new health care legislation, looked at from Europe, have done nothing to add to our respect for the USA. The millions spent by interest groups, such as the pharmaceutical industry, to influence senators and congressmen, can only be understood as blatent bribery, of those who are only too quick to cry "corruption" if a fraction of such sums is seen to be used to secure business by a company from another country, if a US company then looses out. The lies which they circulated go to prove that they simply did not have an honest arguement to offer. The attitude of the republican supporters seems to be that they are all right, and others can suffer.
    In the new edition of The Economist, there is a letter from Paul Grimes of Chicago, claiming that the US medical system is the best in the world. He must live in another one ! If this were true, why does the system always come in international comparisons at the tail-end of the developed countries ? How on earth did he (and any others who might share it) come to have this opinion ? In fact, it is massively more expensive (as a percentage of the GNP) than any of the 18 national systems which are demonstrably – often much – better. For those who can afford it, it is true that cancer treatment is amongst the best in the world, but there is stops, even for those who can afford it. (And which president was it that declared war on cancer ?)
    Then there has been the idiotic use of the "S"-word. We in Europe consider that eveyone should have the right to health, and that it should not be sold at blackmail prices, the same as that people should have the right to clean drinking water. This has nothing to do with socialism, (and socialism in Europe has little to do with the ridiculous myths touted by US politicians anyway), but everything to do with respect for other human beings, and a recognition that people can suffer misfortune.
    The church-going percentage of the US population is considerably higher that in Europe, but "love thy neighbour" seems to get missed out of the message heard, even if preached. Has it been purged from US versions of the Bible ? How going to church can be reconciled with opposing universal health care, no-one here understands. The word "bigot" seems appropriate.

  23. Gerard Mayer | April 4, 2010

    Health Care a right or prividge, belies the real question. Is health (good) a right or just luck?
    I have watched the unfortunate born into poor health, the young denied good health due to accidents and the rest of us one step from health disaster. It is only then we begin to really ponder the question. In the meantime the "business" of health care keeps getting more expensive and less effective. Untill we all recognize and accept responsibility for health and the care thereof for ALL of us, we will continue to be a selfish inhumane society just like the "Wall Street Crowd".

  24. Richard Griesenbeck, MD | April 4, 2010

    The Health Bill is far too complicated and so far mostly hidden in the big stack of paper ( Rep, Cantor's alleged "prop") to comment intelligently, but one thing appears to be true : There is nothing about TORT REFORM that was promised, and is sorely needed to cut into the costs of defensive (KYA) practices, and of actual litigation. Hope the Republicans can somehow correct this sad omission, even without totally "starting over"

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