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

On a call with reporters this week, a Trump administration official who asked not to be identified refused to say exactly what the government will and won’t do to uphold and promote the Affordable Care Act during this fall’s open enrollment period.

The New York Times reported that the message conveyed in the meeting was that the Trump administration “will do the minimum necessary to comply with the law,” but no more, raising existing fears that the government’s inaction will intentionally depress insurance signups.

Here is how the unnamed official with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) addressed the biggest unknowns about the future of Obamacare:

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Congress returns next week to a nightmarishly short calendar during which they must pass a host of bills to keep the government running, including the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which provides health coverage to millions of children in low-income families and expires on Sept. 30.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Republicans may attempt to use the CHIP deadline as a vehicle to revive their effort to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, and could try to attach amendments to the bill to reauthorize its funding.

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Richard Trumka, the president of the nation’s largest labor union, the AFL-CIO, told reporters Wednesday morning that he has no regrets about quitting the Trump administration’s manufacturing committee in the wake of the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, and blasted the White House as a combination of people who are “racist” and “Wall Streeters.”

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Is Medicaid “insurance” or is it “welfare”?

The battle taking place in Maine right now over this semantic question could determine whether the state becomes the first in the nation to adopt Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion by popular vote.

Mainers have until Friday to weigh in on the exact wording of a ballot initiative, which if it passes would allow Maine to join the 30-plus states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Conservative groups and state Republicans, led by Maine’s firebrand Gov. Paul LePage (R), are pushing for the Medicaid expansion to be characterized on the ballot as welfare in the hopes that people will then vote it down.

“It’s free health care paid for by the taxpayers, and it’s got to be said that way,” LePage told talk radio hosts at WGAN last Thursday. “It’s pure welfare. If you don’t want to call it welfare, call it an entitlement.”

In the same interview, LePage threatened to sue the secretary of state if the final ballot language calls the Medicaid expansion “insurance.”

“I’m going to challenge that,” he vowed.

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As White House spokespeople blithely insist that everything is fine between the Republican president and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, the relationship continues to deteriorate—with vague sniping in the press escalating into screaming private phone calls and public call-outs at rallies and on Twitter.

Always one who thrives on attacking a real or invented enemy, President Donald Trump, whose party controls every level of power in Washington, has targeted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for ridicule, blaming him for just how little Republicans have been able to accomplish in 2017.

The president has also gone after individual lawmakers in his own party, threatening to primary some of the Senate’s most vulnerable GOP members and publicly and privately berating others.

The attacks could not come at a worse time.

Because Congress ate up so much of the year with a failed push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have an extremely narrow time frame left to pass a budget, raise the debt ceiling, reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Flood Insurance Program and appropriate funding to stabilize Obamacare’s marketplaces. This would be a challenge even with full support from the White House, but it becomes nearly impossible with a president whose spasms of rage, loose grasp of policy, and itchy Twitter finger threaten to derail the delicate deal-making process.

Here comes the September from hell.

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President Donald Trump is “seriously considering” killing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, according to multiple reports. The exact timing remains uncertain, though immigration advocates are treating a decision as potentially imminent, perhaps as early as Friday.

DACA has since 2012 extended legal status and work permits to more than 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. Ending the program would make this population, known as the DREAMers, vulnerable to deportation.

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A staffer with the House Appropriations Committee confirmed to TPM on Wednesday that they plan to use a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past the end of September and avoid a potentially embarrassing and destructive government shutdown.

Despite House Speaker Paul Ryan’s repeated promises to return to so-called “regular order” in passing government spending bills, Congress has over his tenure so far continued to kick the can down the road without drafting and voting on a regular budget.

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