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Alice Ollstein

Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.

Articles by Alice

Cameron Joseph contributed reporting.

It’s dead—again.

Emerging from a closed-door lunch meeting, Republican senators told reporters that leadership had decided to call off a vote this week on a bill to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and convert Medicaid into a shrinking block grant.

“I don’t believe there is going to be a vote,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said with a smile, declining to reveal how she would have voted on the controversial bill, but adding: “There’s still a lot of work to do on health care.”

Other Republican members were less zen about the news that they would once again fail to fulfill their signature campaign promise to nuke Obamacare.

“I’m apoplectic,” Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) told TPM. “I’m kind of disgusted that after 9 months the self-interest is still outweighing the national interest in our caucus in some ways. This should not have happened. This did not have to happen.”

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Hours before the sole hearing on the GOP’s last-ditch bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, hundreds of activists from around the country set up camp in the halls of the Senate office building, waiting to grab a seat in the room and register their opposition to the legislation.

Under the watch of several dozen armed Capitol Police officers, the activists put on Grim Reaper costumes, donned bright red shirts blaring “I AM A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION,” and periodically struck up chants of “Kill the bill.” Many planned to be arrested protesting the bill.

“It’s the most horrible legislation in our lifetimes,” New York City retiree Judy Cutler told TPM. “It will kill people, literally. And it will cost our family so much I don’t think we can afford our care.”

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Amid crumbling support for the Senate GOP’s last-ditch bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the authors of the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill dropped revised text late Sunday night in an attempt to woo dissenting Republicans back into the fold.

The changes attempt to offer something for everyone: more insurance deregulation and the weakening of protections for people with pre-existing conditions for far-right skeptics like Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), re-jiggered state numbers to soothe the fears of moderates Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and an extra sweetener for the home state of bill author Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

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In his statement Friday sticking a knife in the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pleaded with his colleagues—again—to return to following basic Senate lawmaking procedure and work together across the aisle. Specifically, he called for the resumption of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on a bipartisan fix for Obamacare’s vulnerable markets that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) abruptly called off earlier this week amid GOP fervor for another whack at repeal.

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A new report from the Brookings Institute estimates that 21 million people will lose their health insurance by 2026 under Senate Republicans’ latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The report cautions that it’s a very conservative estimate that doesn’t take into account the bill’s per-capita Medicaid caps and the individual market turmoil the plan would likely create. The true number of uninsured people, the authors note, is likely much higher.

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In a blistering statement released Friday morning, the association representing state Medicaid directors took Congress to task for rushing a bill to the floor that would completely overhaul the nation’s health care system in just a few years and deeply cut the federal money available to states to cover hundreds of millions of people.

“We are concerned that this legislation would undermine efforts in many states and fail to deliver on our collective goal of an improved health care system,” wrote the board of the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD), a 12-member body elected by all 56 U.S. Medicaid directors.

Matt Salo, the executive director of the NAMD, told TPM that while it’s nearly impossible for his members to achieve “lock-step unanimity” on anything, especially major, controversial pieces of legislation, the board “felt the concerns were strong enough and universal enough that this was an important message to say on behalf of their peers.”

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A report released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows a sharp disparity in how the new Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill treats states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not.

Overall, the report estimates, states would see $160 billion less in federal health care funding over the next decade under the proposed law, with 35 states and D.C. losing federal dollars. But Medicaid expansion states would bear the heaviest burden by far, losing 11 percent of federal support on average. Republican-controlled states that did not expand Medicaid, however, would get an average increase of 12 percent.

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The Senate is barreling toward a vote next week on a recently unveiled bill that would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and convert Medicaid into a shrinking block grant. With just a few days left to muster the 50 votes necessary to pass the bill before the clock on reconciliation expires, the bill’s conservative authors are pressuring their moderate colleagues to get on board, despite the fact that the bill includes none of the protections moderates have demanded for months, nor any of the concessions that they won in previous Obamacare repeal bills.

With only a single committee hearing, no markup, no complete score from the Congressional Budget Office and only 90 seconds of floor debate allocated for the bill, and no time to hold a conference committee with the House, moderates are essentially being told to fall in line and swallow the bill as is.

If Senate Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a vote next week, he’ll be throwing under the bus moderates who promised their constituents opioid treatment funding, protection for Medicaid, and equal treatment for people with pre-existing conditions.

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