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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 07:30 PM
Original message
More Than 260,000 Can't Get VA Health Care
More Than 260,000 Can't Get VA Health Care
More Than 260,000 Unable to Sign Up for VA Health Care
By SUZANNE GAMBOA Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON Jan 24, 2006 More than a quarter-million veterans considered to have higher incomes could not sign up for health care with the Veterans Affairs Department during the last fiscal year because of a cost-cutting move.

Those locked out totaling 263,257 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 have no illnesses or injuries attributable to their service in the military and earn more than the average wage in their community.

The VA suspended enrollment of such veterans beginning in January 2003 after then-VA Secretary Anthony Principi said the agency was struggling to provide adequate health care to the rapidly rising number of veterans seeking it.

That year the VA population was about 6.8 million. About 7.5 million are enrolled today, with more than 5 million treated.

"There is no reason for the VA to give the cold shoulder to veterans who have served our country honorably," said Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois, ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
(snip/...)

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=1537592&CMP=O...
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 07:32 PM
Response to Original message
1. REPUKES HATE OUR VETERANS!
I hope people realize this finally. :grr:
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harpboy_ak Donating Member (437 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-25-06 03:45 AM
Response to Reply #1
14. and they're so inept...
Some Repuke bonehead decreed that vets had to visit the nearest VA clinic every 3 months in order to renew scrips for diabetes meds. Couldn't just visit their own primary care doc and have the meds mailed to them, as they had been here in Alaska for many years.

Instead they pay airfare to Anchorage for far too many Alaskan vets who have to spend a day or two traveling to a "more economical" VA clinic serving an area with distances equal to the entire lower 48!

I stand up for vets every chance I get, including writing to Alaska's 3 repuke stooges asking for more funding and local services. That's something the right wingnuts rarely do.

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Auntie Bush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-25-06 08:47 AM
Response to Reply #1
17. They hate veterans just like they hate our freedoms and hate babies.
They want Veterans to fight our wars for them and steal oil and protect oil companies but, when they are done they want them out of sight ad out of mind and out of the pockets of bush's private treasury.
They want Freedom when it helps them gain power but when freedom gets in their way they trample over it and squash it. The same for babies. They want babies for the votes it gets them but after they are born they don't give a damn what happens to them, especially if it cost any money they need for themselves, their friends, their corporations and their wars! Everything is expendable to them including you and I!
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Dr.Phool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 07:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. I'm one of them!
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soup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 08:19 PM
Response to Original message
3. VA prescriptions went up again this year, too.
My husband got this letter along with the latest refill:

Dear Veteran:

Please be informed that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) charge for a 30-day of less supply of medicine provided on an outpatient basis for treatment of a nonservice-connected condition will increase from $7 to $8 effective January 1, 2006. As a result, veterans will be required to pay $16 for a 60-day supply of medication and $24 for a 90-day supply of medication.

Veterans enrolled in VA's priority groups 2-6 will continue to have a cap on the amount that they can be charged for medication copayments each year. This cap, which is now $840 per year, will be raised to $960 effective January 1, 2006. This cap means that veterans in VA's priority groups 2-6 will not be charged more than $960 in a calendar year for medications.

Regulations published in the Federal Register effective February 4, 2002 authorized the VA to set the copayment at $7 and to increase it based on a formula related to the Medical Consumer Price Index.

We understand that this change may result in a financial hardship for certain veterans and encourage veterans to contact us for any assistance at the telephone number listed on the first page of your billing statement.

We appreciate you choosing VA as your health care provider and look forward to continuing to serve you in the future.

Sincerely yours,

------

His pain meds are free - service related. But the high blood pressure meds now cost an extra 1$ a month.

It's only one prescription, so the extra 1$ a month won't hurt us. But I feel really bad for people needing several prescriptions per month.

Guess the bottom line is - if you're a veteran who doesn't make much money, it's going to cost more - and if you make a decent living, get your care elsewhere. Lovely
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kineneb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 08:40 PM
Response to Original message
4. figures, the bastards really don't care
Typical imperial behavior...just like a early 19th century folksong from England...

"You haven't an arm, you haven't a leg,
The enemy nearly slew ya',
You'll have to go out on the street and beg,
Oh, poor Johnnie, what have they done to ya'."

Soldiers merely as throw-away cannon fodder.
Support the troops, indeed.
:mad:
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Megahurtz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 09:09 PM
Response to Original message
5. Kick This. n/t
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Olney Blue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 09:21 PM
Response to Original message
6. Some War President
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 09:30 PM
Response to Original message
7. Kick-for the troops--and their families
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 09:30 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. KICKYPOO
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badgervan Donating Member (745 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Injustice - Thy Name is Bush
I urge all to write their representatives about this cut back in VA benefits. Remember to point out that bush wants another 70 BILLION in tax cuts for the already rich.
I have to visit the big VA hospital in Madison, Wi. several times a year. My last couple of visits, I was struck by the changing faces of the patients. What was mostly Nam vets, mixed with the older WWII vets, is now mostly young ( so young ) vets from Iraq, many of them female. Many of these kids are really effed up - parts of bodies missing, including faces, lots of multiple amputees, etc. But what really got to me were the ones wandering around with that vacant 1000 yard stare - the mentally damaged. Way too many of them, folks. We aren't getting the true story of this fiasco of a war's real life results. Not even close. Where is the rah-rah media to report this stuff? Probably working on their next " things are getting better in iraq" story. Despicable.
What the hell is happening to our country?
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saigon68 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-25-06 03:24 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. Totally true
The sheep follow these criminals (Cheney et al) and then they shit on the Vets

Disgusting.
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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 10:06 PM
Response to Original message
10. "Help is on the way!" - Bush promise to military audience, Summer of 2000
And Imus is raising money for a San Antonio veterans' facility.

WTF?
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CAG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-24-06 10:16 PM
Response to Original message
11. Bush-boy Steve Buyer (R-IN) is certainly one to thank for this...
They keep talking about how they have "raised" veterans health spending. Keep in mind the cost of healthcare in this country increases from ~8-15% EVERY YEAR, yet in the VA system (that keeps growing thanks to the Gulf War and Iraq war, plus Bush's economy that continues to have people bailing out of private insurance due to lost jobs or outrageous premiums) they only receive token increases that can't keep up to the increase cost and increased demand.

See this editorial from last year:
http://www.military.com/Opinions/0,,Scott_032905-P1,00....
A few quotes:
"Buyer is trying to rewrite the definition of "veteran" in a cold and calculated manner that could cost millions of veterans their benefits. Buyer recently won a political tug-of-war and replaced Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) as chairman of HVAC. Smith was known as a true friend of veterans and often broke ranks with his party to forward legislation favorable to the veteran community....

So, what is happening here? Buyer is trying to redefine "veteran," and in so doing, reshape benefit programs to meet his new definition. In short, this means fewer benefits for fewer veterans.

The two keys here are Buyer's references to "intent of Congress" and "core constituency." By rejecting the "intent of Congress" when they passed legislation defining benefits and eligibility, Buyer is telling us Congress was wrong and he is going to change it. By referring to the VA's "core constituency" as "disabled and indigent veterans," he is eliminating veterans who do not fall into those categories.....

Buyer also wants the Commission to consider offering lump-sum payments to veterans with current disability ratings of 20 percent or less. These "cash now" settlements would deny veterans the right to pursue any compensation claims in the future. A veteran with a progressive condition, one that causes degenerative disability with age, would have no right to further compensation."
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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-25-06 01:53 AM
Response to Original message
12. well, ya know, the VA is just another one of them big government . . .
giveaway programs that discourages average people from "doing for themselves" . . . just like welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security . . . the less people have them to rely on, the more initiative they'll show in their own lives . . .
:sarcasm:
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soup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-25-06 06:46 AM
Response to Original message
15. Shame
From the candidates' position papers provided to the DAV in 2000:

Governor George W. Bush: I believe that our laws must reflect our gratitude to the men and women who so valiantly served our nation in battle. But to many veterans, it seems like they are remembered in Washington only on Veterans Day. Speeches are all well and good, but daily advocacy is needed too in such issues as health care and compensation claims. Although, the Veterans Health Care Eligibility Reform Act and the Veterans Millennium Health Care Act accomplished much to ensure that all veterans and retirees who choose to enroll are eligible to do so, access to health care after enrollment is still an often complicated and bureaucratic process. A process that involves too many delays and uncertainties in coverage.

Disability compensation claims can be an even longer ordeal, taking on average 165 days to complete. So chaotic is the process that there is now a backlog of nearly half a million claims, a fourth of them involving lengthy appeals. And when the claims have been adjudicated and a decision finally made, a third of the decisions contain errors.

This is no way to treat any citizen, much less any veteran of the American armed forces. It is no way for government to discharge one of its most sacred commitments. Men once ordered by their government to stand in the line of fire should not now be ordered to stand in line at the nearest federal bureaucracy, waiting with hat in hand while VA officials take their time.

I believe that the veterans health care system and the claims process need an overhauling from top to bottom. I will make it a top priority for the VA to review its processes and procedures and revamp the way it does business in order to most effectively serve our veterans. The claims process in particular needs to be reformed and modernized, so that claims are handled in a fair and timely fashion.


In Texas, I have achieved strong results by promoting innovation and accountability. I will bring this same results-oriented philosophy to the White House.
http://www.dav.org/magazine/magazine_archives/2000-6/Bu...

---

Ghosts in the Machine
Congress and the Administration should negotiate a fair settlement with retirees.

For US military retirees, the arrival of President Bush in the White House two years ago was a welcome event. Bush had spoken often of the need to honor the nation's veterans. He pledged to protect retiree benefits. And he vowed to put an end to government's "broken promises."

"We must keep our commitment to those who wore the uniform in the past," Bush noted on Jan. 19, 2001. "We will make sure promises made to our veterans will be promises kept."

http://www.afa.org/magazine/jan2003/0103edit.asp

worth repeating:
January 19, 2001
"We must keep our commitment to those who wore the uniform in the past. We will make sure promises made to our veterans will be promises kept."
http://www.dod.mil/news/Jan2001/n01202001_200101201.htm...

---

Published on Sunday, December 22, 2002 by the Boston Globe
Frustrated Veterans Accuse Bush of Breaking Promise
by Wayne Washington


WASHINGTON - The leaders of America's most prominent veterans organizations say that President Bush is failing to honor past commitments to military men and women even as he prepares to send a new generation of soldiers and sailors into combat.

The administration's support for rescinding lifetime health benefits for World War II and Korean War veterans and continuing problems at veterans hospitals stand as proof, veteran leaders say, that America is more than willing to lean on its soldiers during times of war but tolerates them serving as political props in peacetime.

Coming after President Clinton, who avoided service in Vietnam and had a strained relationship with the military, veterans leaders say they had high expectations for Bush, who served in the National Guard and whose father was a fighter pilot during World War Two.

''I'm terribly frustrated and extremely angry,'' said retired Air Force Colonel George ''Bud'' Day, a Republican who won the Medal of Honor and was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam with Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Day said Bush is violating his oft-repeated campaign pledge to veterans: ''A promise made is a promise kept.''

''Obviously, he didn't know what that meant or he's too preoccupied to see that his word is kept,'' Day said.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1222-01.htm

---

January 2003
VA Seeks Record Budget, Shuts Health Care to Priority 8 Vets

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2003 -- Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi recently announced he's seeking $63.6 billion in the president's fiscal 2004 budget request -- and suspending "better-off" veterans from health care to ensure the neediest are served.

VA's budget request includes $30.2 billion for health care and other discretionary funding and $33.4 billion for disability compensation, pension and other entitlement programs. The request includes $225 million for new construction. Funding for fiscal 2004 health care is 7.7 percent higher than the fiscal 2003 level, the largest requested increase in VA history, Principi said.

The secretary also suspended new enrollments by veterans in Priority Group 8, the one with the lowest statutory priority. This group includes veterans who are not being compensated for a military-related disability and who have "higher incomes," generally about $30,000 or more.

Group 8 veterans who were enrolled by Jan. 17 are "grandfathered" and can continue receiving VA health care.
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jan2003/n01242003_20030...

note - link to Financial Income Thresholds for VA Healthcare Benefits
(pdf format):

http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/DOCS/MTFinancialThr...

---

Published on Sunday, July 27, 2003 by Knight-Ridder
Bush, Republicans Losing Support of Retired Veterans
by Steven Thomma

WASHINGTON - President Bush and his Republican Party are facing a political backlash from an unlikely group - retired veterans.

Normally Republican, many retired veterans are mad that Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress are blocking remedies to two problems with health and pension benefits. They say they feel particularly betrayed by Bush, who appealed to them in his 2000 campaign, and who vowed on the eve of his inauguration that "promises made to our veterans will be promises kept."

"He pats us on the back with his speeches and stabs us in the back with his actions," said Charles A. Carter of Shawnee, Okla., a retired Navy senior chief petty officer. "I will vote non-Republican in a heart beat if it continues as is."

"I feel betrayed," said Raymond C. Oden Jr., a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant now living in Abilene, Texas.

Many veterans say they will not vote for Bush or any Republican in 2004 and are considering voting for a Democrat for the first time. Others say they will sit out the election, angry with Bush and Republicans but unwilling to support Democrats, whom they say are no better at keeping promises to veterans. Some say they will still support Bush and his party despite their ire.
http://www.veteransforpeace.org/Bush_Republican_072703....

---

Fall 2003 (volume 33, Number2)
George W. Bush Reaches a New Low in Support of the Nation's Veterans
By Dave Curry, Joe Miller and Barry Romo

George Bush is not a veteran, and he is not concerned about our needs. When he's not pretending to be a jet pilot, Bush pretends to be just another veteran. At the American Legion National Convention, before he began his speech, Bush called attention to a veteran from "his old legion post." The message was a reach for solidarity. "We're all vets here."

In the speech that followed, Bush laid claim to "the largest discretionary increase for the Department of Veterans Affairs ever requested by a president." Bush also claimed that under his leadership the VA has made "major progress in reducing the backlog of veterans' disability claims and the number of veterans waiting for health care. And (we will) continue to work to make sure those backlogs are eliminated."

Maybe this is an outright lie or maybe reducing "backlogs" and "lists" is simply a matter of reducing benefits, facilities, and eligibility. No benefits, no facilities, no eligibility, therefore no lists, no backlogs. And of course there must be administrative costs associated with all this streamlining.

Under current leadership, the administration intends to drop more than half a million veterans from medical eligibility by 2005. At the same time, House Republicans have passed a White House proposal to charge veterans enrollment fees of $250 a year and double the amount they now pay for prescription drugs. This is at a time when it already takes an average of six months to get an appointment at a VA medical center. <
http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=367

---

Article & Essay: Bush Betrays Veterans
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2004

As the November election nears, veterans need to realize that President Bush has not been their friend, that Republicans are anti-veteran.
By Gerald S. Rellick



>snip< As reported by Boston Globe columnist Tom Oliphant, in late June Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle proposed just this--making veterans health care coverage mandatory. Daschle proposed a two-year trial of the entitlement idea. The cost of fully funding the health care need was estimated to be an additional $2.6 billion next year and then to rise with the number of eligible veterans and inflation after that. But, says Oliphant, The vote never had a chance. The Senate needed to waive budget rules to consider the proposal as part of an annual military spending measure. That requires 60 votes; it got 49.

But, as Oliphant notes, an important point was made. Congressional Democrats and John Kerry support mandatory funding of veterans health care. George Bush, Dennis Hastert, and Bill Frist do not. If the Senate and House were not in Republican control, veterans with health care needs could rest easy.

As the November elections near, many veterans are being forced to reexamine their longstanding support for the Republican Party. What we have in Washington today is not the Republican party of Eisenhower or Goldwater or even Richard Nixon. Bush and his breed are something new, a mutant breed that feeds on ideology, greed, and pure political power. And it feeds on the weak. Veterans who support Bush are voting against their own interests and those of their comrades, particularly those who are disabled and others in need of medical care. Men and women who have worn the uniform of the U.S. military know there is no greater disgrace than to let their buddies down. Its time that veterans and their families recognize that the greatest threat to Americas security comes not from without but from within.
http://www.interventionmag.com/cms/modules.php?op=modlo...

Related Intervention Articles:

Republican Attack On U.S. Veterans
Republicans Seek To Slash VA Budget!
Billions For Invading Iraq And Homelessness For Veterans
Veterans Administration Out Of Control?
Bushs War Against U.S. Military Veterans


---

Indignities Endured by U.S. Military Veterans

A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
Last Update: Aug. 9, 2004
contains links to many articles:
http://www.buzzflash.com/analysis/03/11/ana03304.html

another archive of many articles on veterans:
http://archive.democrats.com/preview.cfm?term=Veterans

---

October 13, 2004

The Third Bush-Kerry Presidential Debate
transcript

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President?

BUSH: Talk about the VA: We've increased VA funding by $22 billion in the four years since I've been president. That's twice the amount that my predecessor increased VA funding.

Of course we're meeting our obligation to our veterans, and the veterans know that.

We're expanding veterans' health care throughout the country. We're aligning facilities where the veterans live now. Veterans are getting very good health care under my administration, and they will continue to do so during the next four years.
http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2004d.html

---

VA Faces $2.6 Billion Shortfall in Medical Care
Agency Undercounted Size of Returning Force


By Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 29, 2005; Page A19

The Bush administration disclosed yesterday that it had vastly underestimated the number of service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan seeking medical treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and warned that the health care programs will be short at least $2.6 billion next year unless Congress approves additional funds.

Veterans Affairs budget documents projected that 23,553 veterans would return this year from Iraq and Afghanistan and seek medical treatment. However, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson told a Senate committee that the number has been revised upward to 103,000 for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. He said the original estimates were based on outdated assumptions from 2002.
>snip<

Senate Republicans, embarrassed and angered over the revelations, yesterday announced plans to pass emergency legislation this morning to add $1.5 billion to the fiscal 2005 appropriation. The move is designed to appease angry veterans groups and preempt a Democratic proposal calling for $1.42 billion in increased VA spending.

The action represents a reversal of GOP policies toward the VA. For the past four months, House and Senate Republicans have repeatedly defeated Democratic amendments to boost VA medical funding.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...

---

August 2005
Dean: Cheneys Empty Rhetoric Wont Provide Missouri Veterans Benefits

Washington, DC Tomorrow, Vice President Dick Cheney will visit Springfield, MO, to address the national convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today urged Vice President Cheney to use his visit to Missouri to explain why the Bush Administration has failed to fully fund veterans benefits for the brave Missourans fighting on the front lines of the war on terror. Dean issued the following statement:

The Bush Administration rarely skips an opportunity to use the men and women of our armed forces as political props. But when the opportunity comes to make sure these patriots who served our country receive the benefits they have earned, this President and the Republicans in Congress abandon our veterans every time. Veterans in the Show-Me State, and across America, deserve more than cheap talk about patriotism and supporting our troops. Democrats know that actions speak louder than words, and this Administrations actions clearly demonstrate that they are not interested in providing veterans with anything more than empty rhetoric and broken promises.
http://www.democrats.org/a/p/dean_cheneys_empty_rhetori...

---

Health benefits in danger, veterans groups claim
Sunday, January 22, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

By Dale Eisman

The (Norfolk, Va.) Virginian-Pilot

WASHINGTON The Pentagon hopes to reap billions of dollars to pay for ships, aircraft and other weapons by doubling or tripling health-insurance premiums paid by military retirees and driving 600,000 of those pensioners out of the military medical system, a coalition of veterans organizations charges.

Groups representing more than 1 million military pensioners those who served at least 20 years are organizing a telephone and letter-writing campaign to block the idea if it surfaces in Congress or to persuade the Bush administration to abandon it.


The retirees said the proposal breaks faith with former service members and their families and risks alienating thousands of active-duty troops who may see it as eroding benefits they expect in retirement.

Because promises of free or low-cost health care are part of military recruiting, new fees could be an obstacle, the veterans said.<
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/20027...

---

I could go on. But I can't go on.
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rainbow4321 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-25-06 07:57 AM
Response to Original message
16. State-by-state numbers of veterans unable to enroll for VA health care
I just listed a few from the complete list:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sharedcontent/APStories/sto...

State-by-state numbers of veterans unable to enroll for VA health care because of income requirements:

<snip>
California-17,378
Florida-27,465
Illinois-8,944
North Carolina-10,405
Ohio-9,764
Pennsylvania-13,262
Texas-19,204

<snip>

Total-263,257







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