U.S. Politics

Spoiler Alert: Women Are Already Being Punished For Having Abortions



GOP frontrunner Donald Trump made waves on Wednesday afternoon when he said that, if anti-choice lawmakers succeed in their goal of outlawing abortion, there should be “some form of punishment” for women who end a pregnancy.

Abortion opponents quickly moved to distance themselves from Trump’s comments, claiming that he doesn’t represent the true pro-life position. “No pro-life American advocates punishment for abortion,” said March For Life Education, the group that convenes the annual anti-abortion protest on the National Mall. “We have never advocated, in any context, for the punishment of women who undergo abortion,” added the right-wing Susan B. Anthony List.

Anti-abortion individuals have a long history of shying away from talking about what should happen to women who have abortions in a society where abortion is a crime. They typically argue that since the women who have abortions are victims, rather than criminals, the goal isn’t necessarily to put them in jail.

But punishment is the logical end point of the stance that abortion should be illegal. There’s plenty of evidence that, when a medical procedure carries criminal penalties, some people invariably end up behind bars.

Multiple U.S. women — with few options to get themselves to one of their state’s dwindling legal clinics — have been arrested for illegal abortions after they bought abortion-inducing medication online. And thanks to the growing number of laws aimed at protecting “fetal rights,” other women have been punished for doing activities that allegedly harmed their pregnancies. Americans have been charged with murder for allegedly seeking to harm their fetuses by attempting suicide, usingillicit drugs, or even falling down the stairs.

Around the world, there are many women sitting in prison for the crime of abortion.

In El Salvador, for example, women live under one of the harshest abortion bans in the world and are routinely prosecuted for illegally ending a pregnancy. Some women are serving decades behind bars for having a miscarriage that authorities suspect they did something to induce.

In Ecuador, if women are convicted of ending a pregnancy, they can face up to five years in prison. And the evidence can be pretty thin. In fact, a woman can be sentenced to up to two years behind bars based solely on the testimony of a medical professional who says she had an abortion.

In Guanajuato, a conservative state in Mexico that completely criminalizes abortion, dozens of women have been put on trial for the crime of ending a pregnancy. Some of them have beensentenced to up to 30 years in prison. At least 17 women are serving time there even though there isn’t any evidence their pregnancies ended from unnatural causes.

Women convicted of having an abortion in the Philippines, a conservative Catholic country where birth control is not widely available, can face up to six years in prison.

On Wednesday, GOP presidential candidates sought to quickly pivot away from the idea of punishing women themselves. Trump tried to walk back his statements by suggesting that punishment should be left to the states to decide. And a spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz (R) said that Cruz favors punishing the doctors who perform doctors; one of the anti-abortion activists who’s endorsed Cruz for president has actually called for putting those doctors to death.


U.S. Politics

Rachel Maddow Puts The Media To Shame With Brilliant Interviews Of Clinton And Sanders

Rachel Maddow Puts The Media To Shame With Brilliant Interviews Of Clinton And Sanders

MSNBC Screencap


While other members of the media try to make news, Rachel Maddow showed how it is supposed to be done with two intelligent back to back interviews of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

While other members of the media try to make news, Rachel Maddow showed how it is supposed to be done with two intelligent back to back interviews of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

During her interview with former Sec. of State Clinton, Maddow went the extra mile by going back to Clinton get her discuss Donald Trump’s abortion punishment comments after she had already taped the interview.

Maddow got Clinton to offer a different perspective that didn’t match up with the Beltway conventional wisdom on the Republican Party and Trump:

What I think is going on is that, you know, they know, because of his personality, because of his divisiveness, which is much more out there than what you see among other Republicans, not that it’s that different, but the way he expresses it. You know, going after Mexicans as rapists, and criminals. Insulting women. Barring Muslims.

You know, that reflects a certain strain of belief within the Republican party. It’s not totally outside the pale of what many of their leaders have been saying, campaigning on, winning elections on. What they’ve done is to create the environment where someone emerges who is truly, in their view, a personality they don’t know what to do with. And yet on issues it– they should look in the mirror.

Rachel Maddow didn’t talk about emails or the other shiny Republican created objects that the media gets infatuated with. Instead, she asked intelligent questions, and she got smart answers.

During her interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Maddow gave Sanders the room to discuss the Republican Party in blunt terms, “And I think if we had a media in this country that was really prepared to look at what the Republicans actually stood for rather than quoting every absurd remark of Donald Trump, talking about Republican Party, talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the top two tenths of 1 percent, cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, a party which with few exceptions, doesn’t even acknowledge the reality of climate change, let alone do anything about it, a party which is not prepared to stand with women in the fight for pay equity, a party that is not prepared to do anything about a broken criminal justice system or a corrupt campaign finance system, I think, to be honest with you — and I just don’t, you know, say this rhetorically, this is a fringe party. It is a fringe party. Maybe they get 5, 10 percent of the vote.”

Rachel Maddow delivered two of the best candidate interviews that voters will see anywhere in 2016. Her interviews were informative to the electorate and demonstrated how it is possible to provide both entertainment and information. By not trying to make the news, Rachel Maddow added to the political discourse and provided two hours of shining programming in a sea of 24-hour cable news muck.


U.S. Politics

CNN’s Anderson Cooper Tells Trump He Argues Like A Five Year Old


During CNN’s Town Hall Tuesday night that featured the remaining three Republican candidates for the 2016 presidency, Anderson Cooper questioned Donald Trump for retweeting an “unflattering picture of (Heidi Cruz) next to a picture of your wife.”

Trump immediately responded by saying he “thought it was a nice picture of Heidi, I thought it was fine.” Which resulted in Cooper responding in awe, “come on!” Trump, “she’s a pretty woman.”

Cooper then took him to task: “You’re running for president of the United States.”

Trump childishly responds, “I didn’t start it”

Cooper replies, “Sir, with all due respect, that’s the argument of a 5-year-old”

Trump: I didn’t start it!

Cooper: Yea, the argument of a five year old, he started it!

Trump: Excuse me, you would say that. That’s the problem with our country.

Cooper: Every parent knows a kid who says, ‘He started it.’

Trump: No, no, no. That’s the problem. Exactly that thinking…

He went on to blame Cruz for starting the fight and even though Copper corrected him by saying it was a Super PAC that made the anti-Malania add, he refused to believe it and blamed the Romney people.

Trump: Romney is very embarrassed that he did so badly four years ago. The guy choked like a dog.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen is your front runner for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination!

By John Amato

U.S. Politics

President Obama very politely asks journalists to point out when politicians are lying to them

attribution: REUTERS

Sorry Mr. President.  The operative word here is: ACCESSS. ACCESS. ACCESS.  Write or report badly about a politician and a reporter’s access is abolished instantaneously.  Your plan holds no promise for an age old institutional “value”  that has been accepted by the fifth estate decades, if not centuries ago. (ks)


Here’s President Obama at a press dinner in Washington, politely pointing out that if news reporters aren’t going to do their jobs then America is pretty much boned.

“When our elected officials and our political campaigns become entirely untethered from reason and facts and analysis, when it doesn’t matter what’s true and what’s not, that makes it all but impossible for us to make good decisions on behalf of future generations,” Obama said at the awards dinner for the Robin Toner prize, which honors the late New York Times political correspondent.

Well, yes. If one candidate points out that taxes are what pay for us to have nice things like roads and grenade launchers, and another candidate responds by saying that we could pay for all of that by growing and selling magic beans, it might be a wee bit helpful if reporters pointed out that magic beans do not actually exist and therefore basing the entire United States economy around them is likely to be fundamentally flawed. You know: journalism. Or you could whip up a television punditry program in which you pitted the two sides against each other, the side that knows as fact that magic beans do not exist and the side that says eff you, they’ll exist if we want them to, and just let them bicker with each other for 30 minutes with absolutely no hint to the viewer that half of the panel is robustly and earnestly lying. We could call it Crossfire.

Not enough is made of the extent to which political pundits are merely extensions of two-party partisanship. It’s in nobody’s interest to point out when a politician is flat-out lying to the public, because if you say that then the politician won’t grant you interviews anymore and your network will look less important and influential. It’s in nobody’s interest to point out when one of the pundits is themselves flat-out lying, because pundits do not want to be part of a business model in which there is accountability for saying false or stupid things. That’s a long, dark road to go down, a road where maybe Bill Kristol doesn’t get to be on television anymore and George Will has to stick to anecdotes about baseball.


You can’t have an adversarial press if the press is forever worried about whether they’ll be getting invitations to this winter’s Magic Bean Ball. It’s the social event of the season, after all, and anyone who is anyone will be there. If the price of attendance is not pointing out that some of our politicians and supposed issue experts are selling things that do not actually exist, then “future generations” can jolly well fend for themselves.

By Hunter

U.S. Politics

DOJ’s Plan To Reform Police Department Notorious For Racial Bias


Hopefully  this plan for Newark will eventually be implemented in other cities as well…(ks)


Nearly two years after the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a damning report on Newark officers’ unreasonable use of excessive force and racially discriminatory stops and arrests, the city and federal agency have revealed their plan to drastically alter the Newark Police Department.

According to a final settlement announced at a press conference Wednesday, most of the NPD’s officers will be equipped with body cams and participate in revamped use-of-force training. All police cars will be equipped with cameras, and the department will implement new computer technology to record and investigate misconduct. Officers also have to respect witnesses’ First Amendment right to record police encounters.

Peter C. Harvey, New Jersey’s former attorney general, will monitor the changes.

“Once a judge approves our agreement, an independent monitor will assess and report on the implementation progress for an initial term of five years,” Vanita Gupta, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, wrote in a statement. “The agreement will end once the city demonstrates to the court substantial and effective compliance for two consecutive years.”

The DOJ launched an investigation of the NPD in 2011, in response to ACLU allegations of gross misconduct within the department. The years later, the agency released a final report corroborating those allegations.

The DOJ found that 20 percent of the use-of-force incidents reported to the NPD’s internal affairs were unreasonable. Officers punched, slammed, choked, and kicked people without justifiable cause. Physical force was often used in retaliation against people who questioned officers’ actions and authority. The Department also discovered that 75 percent of police stops were unreasonable, because the motivating factors didn’t meet the constitutional standards for reasonable suspicion. People were routinely stopped for “loitering” or “wandering,” and racially-profiling was the norm.

Eighty-five percent of pedestrian stops involved African Americans, who only make up 54 percent of Newark’s population. Likewise, black people were 2.7 times more likely to be searched and 3.1 times more likely to be frisked than their white counterparts.

When the results of the investigation were published in 2014, the NPD consented that change was necessary. Mayor Ras Baraka signed an executive decree to establish a civilian oversight committee last year.

The settlement announced on Wednesday finalized the terms of all agreed-upon changes.


U.S. Politics

The U.S. Plans To Increase Its Troop Presence in Europe in Response to an ‘Aggressive’ Russia

U.S. Troops Cross Czech Republic In "Operation Atlantic Resolve" Exercises

<U.S. Army soldiers of the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment arrive at Czech army barracks on March 30, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic | Matej Divizna—Getty Images>


The move will bring the U.S. Army’s presence in Europe to three fully manned brigades

The U.S. plans to increase its troop presence in Europe with the rotation of an armored brigade “in the wake of an aggressive Russia in Eastern Europe and elsewhere,” the military announced Wednesday.

“This Army implementation plan continues to demonstrate our strong and balanced approach to reassuring our NATO allies,” General Philip Breedlove, the top U.S. commander in Europe, said in a statement. “They will see a more frequent presence of an armored brigade with more modernized equipment in their countries.”

Starting next February, continuous troop rotations will bring the U.S. Army’s total presence in Europe to three brigades, which are comprised of about 4,500 troops. The Army also plans to replace and upgrade its current equipment in Europe.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter identified Russian aggression in Europe as one of five key challenges when he previewed the Pentagon’s 2017 defense budget request last month. The Pentagon asked for $3.4 billion, quadruple the previous year’s funding, to support its European Reassurance Initiative, an operation launched in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.

U.S. Politics

Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here’s how you know the state’s voter ID law is a complete sham

Republicans lied in Wisconsin: Here's how you know the state's voter ID law is a complete sham

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas – RTR4NN60(Credit: Reuters)


No rule in politics is absolute, but, generally speaking, you’d be well served to keep this one in mind: If a politician is not willing to spend money on something they say they support, then their support is about as real as Santa Claus.

Unless you view politics as nothing more than an entertaining pastime for overeducated squares who weren’t cute enough to make it in Hollywood — i.e., you actually look forward to “nerd prom,” God help you — then the point of the whole endeavor is to get big things done.

And getting big things done not only requires money but, perhaps more importantly, requires conflict. This is often because someone’s going to have to pony up, I’ll admit. But that’s not always the case; and sometimes the rejection involves turning down money, too. (See: the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.)

All of which is to say something that’s been said about politics countless times already, and will no doubt be said again and again and again: Talk is cheap. And cheap is something that public policy — if it’s good, at least — usually is not.

So when you read this report from Pro Publica’s Sarah Smith, what it should tell you, as if you didn’t know already, is that the legislature in Wisconsin couldn’t care less when it comes to improving its elections. Because that is not what its voter ID law is about:

On April 5, when voters cast ballots in Wisconsin’s Republican and Democratic primaries, the state’s controversial voter ID bill will face its biggest test since Governor Scott Walker signed it into law in 2011. For the first time in a major election, citizens will be required to show approved forms of identification in order to vote. The law mandates that the state run a public-service campaign “in conjunction with the first regularly scheduled primary and election” to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable.

But Wisconsin has failed to appropriate funds for the public education campaign. The result is that thousands of citizens may be turned away from the polls simply because they did not understand what form of identification they needed to vote.

Doesn’t look too good for those who argue that, contrary to Democrats’ claims, voter ID laws are not intended to suppress the Democratic vote, does it? Well, it gets worse.

Because this isn’t a case of bureaucratic miscommunication; this isn’t about the state government’s left hand not knowing what its right hand is doing. According to Smith’s reporting, the decision to provide a statewide education campaign with all of zero dollars was about as intentional-looking as it gets:

Wisconsin’s failure to fund these public-service ads comes after a clash between the Government Accountability Board, the nonpartisan agency responsible for producing voter education materials, and the Republican-controlled legislature. In October, the agency met with Republican State Senator Mary Lazich, who was a primary sponsor of the voter ID bill in 2011, to inquire after funding and received a tepid response.

The board told Lazich that it would need $300,000 to $500,000 from the state legislature to broadcast advertisements. The legislature had twice appropriated money for public information campaigns during the 2012 and 2014 election cycles, but the ads barely hit the airwaves before court injunctions delayed the law from going into effect.

According to Kevin Kennedy, the board’s director and general counsel, Lazich thanked the board for the information, but didn’t make any promises. Lazich did not respond to requests for comment from ProPublica.

It gets better (by which, again, I mean worse). Not only did Lazich essentially ghost the Government Accountability Board, but the board was unable to find some other ally in the legislature. Why? Because the legislature was in the process of destroying the board altogether:

After the meeting, the Government Accountability Board decided against making a formal funding request to the legislature, which had already introduced a bill to dismantle the agency.

“We weren’t sure we would have a receptive audience,” Kennedy told ProPublica.

Two days after the meeting, the Wisconsin Assembly voted to replace the nonpartisan board with two partisan agencies by the end of June 2016. Since 2012, Republicans have attacked the board after it investigated, among other things, whether Governor Walker coordinated with outside political groups during the recount battle that gripped the state. Judicial orders stalled the investigation, and the board eventually took itself out of the probe. Walker, cleared of wrongdoing, survived the scandal.

The whole thing is so shameless and tawdry, you could be forgiven for wanting to simply shake your head and think about something else. And if you did, you’d simply be following the state legislature’s lead.

After all, it’s not like there’s a problem, here — at least as far as they see it. With anywhere between 200,000 to 350,000 Wisconsin citizens potentially facing disenfranchisement, according to Smith’s report, the voter ID law is on pace to work exactly as intended. Not in word, but deed.

U.S. Politics

This 3-minute cartoon explains why nuclear weapons still pose a terrifying threat


Nuclear weapons are something so scary and so dangerous — thousands of weapons explicitly designed to be powerful enough to destroy the world many times over, perpetually deployed, and able to be fired with the push of a few buttons, like a gun forever left to the world’s head — that I’m sometimes amazed at how little we talk about them.

There are a few reasons for that. One is that they’re so big and scary it can be difficult for people to wrap their heads around. Another is that there’s an impression — not entirely true, as I’ll explain — that nothing ever changes with nukes, so we’re just in a peaceful status quo. But another is just that the scale of the threat still posed by nukes might not be obvious to everyone.

So it’s worth laying that out, as this three-minute cartoon by the popular series Minute Physics does. It’s a good overview, and more than a little scary:

As Max Tegmark of MIT explains in the video, the real risk of nukes is that they’ll be set off in some sort of mistake.

But — and this is important — when experts like Tegmark talk about the mistaken use of nuclear weapons, they’re not talking about a random or otherwise accidental detonation (although that has almost happened a few times). Rather, they’re talking about geopolitical tensions between nuclear-armed powers that, by some confusion or unintended escalation, could become a nuclear exchange before anyone realized it was all a big misunderstanding.

There are two general ways that could happen.

The first are the sorts of incidents Tegmark goes through in the video: One side misperceives the other as launching a nuclear weapon. Because nuclear weapons take only minutes to deliver, the side that believes it is under attack has only minutes to respond — not enough time to investigate what’s happening before retaliating.

As Tegmark explains, this has happened a few times. Blessedly, thankfully, when faulty readings led one side to believe it was under nuclear attack, the people on that side simply chose not to follow the rules requiring them to retaliate. The 1983 incident he cites (which I retell in full here) was probably the closest we ever came to total nuclear annihilation, avoided because the Soviet lieutenant colonel on duty refused to follow protocol requiring him to retaliate.

The second way this could happen is that an actual conflict could break out between two nuclear powers. As this conflict escalated, each side would watch the other obsessively for any sign of a nuclear strike. And some countries, such as Russia, have rules allowing their militaries to use nuclear weapons, in certain circumstances, even if the other side has not.

Again, because the logic of nuclear weapons requires a lightning-fast retaliation to any nuclear launch, there would be dozens of ways in which the two sides could misread some action or escalation as the start of a nuclear attack, and launch what they believe is a retaliation (meant to return in kind and thus prevent more strikes) but would actually be a first strike.

So why do we still have these things if they put us in a state of constant, if low-level, risk of global annihilation? Tegmark makes it sound like the answer is money from defense contractors, but I’m not sure it’s so simple. (It’s not like Northrop Grumman existed in the communist Soviet Union, which long resisted nuclear disarmament.)

The challenge is this: Both American and Soviet/Russia leaders have expressed a desire to reduce their own stockpiles, but they only want to do it if the other side reciprocates in turn. They want to maintain the strategic balance between their two countries’ nuclear arsenals, and they also know that if they disarm unilaterally, they’ll lose leverage to get the other side to disarm.

So disarmament happens jointly, in painstakingly negotiated agreements, which also include painstakingly negotiated inspections and monitoring regimes to make sure the other side is holding to their end. That is extremely difficult and time-consuming even in periods of relative friendliness between Moscow and Washington. But in periods of tension — right now, for example — the distrust is just too high, and the domestic politics within both countries make such agreements too politically costly anyway.

The upshot of all this is that we’re left, more or less perpetually, in a Cold War–era status quo, in which both the US and Russia have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world many times over, have nuclear war plans that require doing exactly that, and have forward-deployed those warheads in a way that is meant to deter the other side but also substantially increases the risk of unintended conflict by reducing our response time to mere minutes.

That’s the status quo, and it’s pretty bad. But it gets worse, because the status quo isn’t really static.

Military technology is constantly changing, and both sides are constantly making upgrades that require the other side to upgrade in turn. So, for example, the US develops a new stealth fighter jet and bomber, which leads Russia to develop better air defense systems.

But the problem is that these changes also affect nuclear weapons technology, which means the carefully balanced nuclear equilibrium is constantly being destabilized.

Take, for example, those improved Russian air defense systems. The American nuclear deterrent is designed to have three components — submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles — known as the triad. Russia’s new air defenses make the air-based part of our triad weaker. So to maintain parity, we are developing a new air-launched cruise missile that can carry nuclear weapons.

But this new weapon, by maintaining parity in some respects (ability to penetrate air defenses), destabilizes parity on others (it reduces Russia’s response time and could be perceived as a first-strike weapon). At the same time, this weapon increases the riskthat a conventional conflict with Russia could spiral into an unwanted nuclear exchange, because Moscow would be unable to differentiate a conventional cruise missile from a nuclear cruise missile.

This is all a very long way (sorry, I get carried away on this topic) of saying that this video describes the threats of nuclear weapons well but, if anything, significantly understates those threats.

This all speaks to what you could maybe call the biggest myth about nuclear weapons, which is that we’re in a peaceful stasis, with parity between the US and Russian forces providing stability. In fact, both sides are constantly doing things to manage that parity that also involve disturbing it, sometimes in ways that can be destabilizing and can increase the risk of an accident, misunderstanding, or unintended escalation. That risk is extremely low and the increases are marginal, but given the potential consequences — the literal end of the world — it’s still pretty scary stuff.

U.S. Politics

Trump Endorses “Some Form of Punishment” for Women Who Get Abortions — Then Flip-Flops

Trump Endorses

Image Credit: Getty Images


Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Wednesday said he supports criminal action against women who obtain abortions, staking out his hardest line yet against reproductive freedom. Trump later backtracked on his position, saying he only favored punishment for doctors who performed illegal abortions.

In comments to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews set to air later on Wednesday, Trump reiterated his opposition to abortion rights, advocating for a ban on the procedure.

Read more:
• Donald Trump Is Gaslighting the Entire Country Over His Campaign Manager’s Arrest
• Donald Trump Disavows Pledge to Support the Eventual Nominee (Unless It’s Donald Trump)

If abortion were illegal, Trump said, “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who undergo the procedure. But the candidate would not specify what punishment he favored, saying that would “have to be determined.”

“They’ve set the law and frankly the judges, you’re going to have a very big election coming up for that reason because you have judges where it’s a real tipping point and with the loss of Scalia, who was a very strong conservative, this presidential election is going to be very important,” Trump said, referring to the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of anti-abortion rights Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump’s comments drew an immediate rebuke from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who tweeted that his remarks were “horrific and telling.”

Following a fierce backlash to his comments, Trump issued a statement saying only care providers should be held “legally responsible” for illegal abortions — “not the woman”:

His remarks and his walk-back mark the latest chapter in his complex history on the issue. Weighing a third-party presidential bid in the 2000 cycle, Trump described himself to Tim Russert as “very pro-choice in every respect.” But by the time Trump considered a 2012 campaign for the Republican nomination, he had reversed himself on the issue, offering himself as a “pro-life” advocate.

Still, Trump is to the left of chief GOP rival Ted Cruz on the issue. Unlike Cruz, Trump supports abortion rights in the cases of rape and incest.

March 30, 2016, 5:12 p.m.: This post has been updated.

Luke Brinker

U.S. Politics

Obamacare Helped The Sickest Americans Gain Insurance, Huge Study Confirms



A new report released Tuesday from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association underscores the need for the Affordable Care Act’s reforms, finding evidence that the health law effectively expanded coverage to America’s most vulnerable citizens.

According to the data, Obamacare’s newest policyholders were more likely to have a variety of significant health problems — in other words, reasons that insurers might have denied them coverage before the Affordable Care Act was passed.

Newly enrolled policyholders were twice as likely to have diabetes, twice as likely to have Hepatitis C, and three times as likely to have HIV. They also had higher instances of high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and coronary artery disease. Hospital admission rates were 84 percent higher for these policyholders, and the frequency of their doctor and specialist visits were 26 percent higher.

“It’s no surprise that people who newly gained access to coverage under the Affordable Care Act needed health care. That’s why they were locked out of coverage before,” Ben Wakana, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, remarked.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association study is significant due to the sheer size of claims data analyzed. Since Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans are purchased across the country, researchers had access to claims for 4.7 million people. About one-third of those studied had been continuously enrolled since 2013; the others signed up in 2014 or 2015.

The report also found that the influx of sicker, previously uninsured patients into the health insurance system is contributing to a rise in insurance premiums nationwide. The increased need for care is driving insurance costs up, even as many people are receiving better care.

Thanks to Obamacare, Americans now have greater access to private health insurance plans through the law’s new individual marketplaces, as well as protection against insurance companies denying them coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions.

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the percentage of uninsured citizens has dropped considerably. Nearly 9 in 10 American adults now have health insurance, and the law has helped to close the health insurance gap between low-income people and wealthier Americans.