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

With the Trump administration sending clear signals that it is open to state requests to rewrite their laws governing both Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces—requests that the Obama administration roundly rejected and that could roll back coverage for hundreds of thousands of people—waivers are pouring in.

This week, Iowa submitted a final proposal to drastically overhaul its ACA compliance. It would change Obamacare’s subsidy structure in the state so that people would receive tax credits based on their age and income, not on the cost of their insurance plan. It also creates a reinsurance program and eliminates the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) federal payments that subsidize care for the lowest-income and sickest patients in the state.

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Obamacare has dodged many bullets over the past few weeks.

Bills in Congress that would have gutted Medicaid and repealed the ACA crashed and burned. President Donald Trump, after threatening for months to cut off billions of dollars in subsidies to insurers, caved and made the August payment. The Trump administration is, so far, enforcing the ACA’s individual mandate. And despite dire warning that dozens of counties would be left with no insurers, nearly every single one has been covered.

But health care experts and advocates tell TPM that Medicaid and the individual markets remain under the gun, with various looming threats from Congress and Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Here are the five ways the Trump administration and Hill Republicans could still go after the nation’s health care system in the months ahead.

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The Trump administration is preparing to roll back the Obama-era free birth control mandate, a move legal groups say would be unconstitutional and subject to a court challenge.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that the rule will be very similar to a draft version leaked in May, which would vastly expand the number and types of businesses eligible for an exemption from Obamacare’s rule requiring all employers to provide insurance coverage of all contraceptive methods without co-pays. If enacted as drafted, it would allow not only religious groups but thousands of non-profits and for-profit businesses to leave birth control out of their employees’ insurance altogether.

Lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union, National Women’s Law Center and other groups say such a rule would violate government process rules, gender discrimination laws, the separation of church and state.

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The top Democrats on an array of House and Senate committee that deal with health care have fired off a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price demanding a briefing before the end of the month on what the lawmakers call the Trump administration’s “ongoing efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act.”

The letter cites several news investigations—including TPM’s report on HHS abandoning its partnerships with Latino, African American, youth, and women’s groups—and asks the department to immediately explain what it is doing to uphold and promote the Affordable Care Act as the open enrollment period approaches.

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Thursday demanded an “urgent meeting” with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about the Trump administration’s plan for outreach to Latino communities ahead of Obamacare’s open enrollment period this fall.

Six Latino lawmakers requested the meeting, writing in a letter that they were “alarmed” by an exclusive report from TPM that HHS had completely abandoned its collaboration with an array of Latino groups that in past years had been partners on education and promotion of the Affordable Care Act.

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A wave of Republican-controlled states are petitioning the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for permission to enact measures that will knock more people off Medicaid and the Trump administration has signaled they will give a green light to these efforts.

After the collapse of Obamacare repeal in Congress, which would have cut hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of people from Medicaid–the public health insurance program for the poor–red states and their allies in the Trump administration are preparing to use a powerful administrative tool as a backdoor route to that same goal.

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The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a report on Tuesday evaluating the potential impact of the Trump administration making good on a repeated threat to cut off Obamacare’s cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurers.

The CBO found that the move would cause premiums for people whose care is supported by the payments to climb 20 percent higher by 2018 and 25 percent higher by 2020. They also estimate that the move would increase the federal deficit by $194 billion dollars by 2026, and it would lead to 5 percent of the U.S. population having no access to a non-group insurer.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to be coy about whether it will uphold or undermine the Affordable Care Act, as the first full open enrollment period of the Trump administration approaches.

In response to an investigation by TPM that revealed the administration has abandoned partnerships that were key to boosting enrollment in years past through outreach to women, young adults, Latinos and African Americans, a spokeswoman from HHS declined to commit to doing any outreach or promotion at all.

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