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

They’re close, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

With less than two weeks left on the clock to repeal Obamacare with only 50 votes, Senate Republicans are still scrambling to win over several wavering members of the GOP caucus. A rushed, incomplete score from the Congressional Budget Office and doubts expressed by some Democratic and Republican governors and House lawmakers have made senators still more wary of the bill currently on the table, which would repeal much of Obamacare and convert Medicaid funding into a shrinking block grant.

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As Senate Republicans scramble to gather 50 votes on a bill that would repeal key pieces of the Affordable Care Act and convert Medicaid into a shrinking block grant controlled by the states, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office announced Monday that it will not be able to fully evaluate the bill’s impact on premiums, the uninsured or the federal budget in the next two weeks.

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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) officially endorsed the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill Monday that would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and convert Medicaid and Obamacare subsidy funding into block grants controlled by the states.

Calling the bill the “best path forward,” Ducey instructed Congress to “get the job done” in the next 12 days, before the clock runs out on Republicans’ ability to pass the bill with only 50 votes instead of the usual 60.

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A coalition of sixteen medical groups—including the influential American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association—wrote an open letter Monday opposing a new Senate effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and convert Medicaid funding into a block grant controlled by states, warning the bill would “negatively impact patients’ access to adequate and affordable health coverage and care.”

“This bill would limit funding for the Medicaid program, roll back important essential
health benefit protections, and potentially open the door to annual and lifetime caps on coverage, endangering access to critical care for millions of Americans,” the groups wrote.

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Republicans’ last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act before the clock runs out on their ability to do it with a simple majority does not have a CBO score, does not have the enthusiastic support of GOP leadership, and most importantly, does not have 50 votes.

But the same health advocacy groups that mobilized in opposition to Obamacare repeal bills this spring are treating the distant prospect that the bill could come to the floor in the next two weeks as an emergency—blasting out press releases and urging their networks to once again pack GOP town halls and tie up Congress’ phone lines until the bill is dead for good.

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The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a new report Thursday on projected changes to the health care marketplace under the Trump administration’s ever-changing approach to the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period.

In particular, the CBO reported that although the individual market will be relatively stable going forward under current law, signups this fall are likely to be suppressed because of the Trump administration’s decision to cut 90 percent of the Obamacare advertising budget and nearly half of the budget for navigators who help people around the country enroll.

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When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) last introduced a single payer health care bill, in 2013, not a single senator came on board. When he introduced one on Wednesday, it had 16 Democratic co-sponsors—including many of the party’s rising stars who are weighing future presidential runs.

“I am very excited about the support the bill is getting both across the country and right here in the U.S. Senate,” enthused Sanders, flanked by several of his fellow lawmakers. “Health care must be a right, not a privilege. Today we begin a long and difficult struggle.”

Though the bill introduced this week has no chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress, and is more of a blueprint than a fully fleshed-out plan, the proposal and its reception show just how far the party’s base has moved to the left on health care in just a few years.

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This spring and summer, when Republicans pushed forward various Obamacare repeal bills that would deeply cut Medicaid spending, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) came out swinging, vowing not to support any bill that would go after either traditional Medicaid or the Medicaid expansion that has extended coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income people in his state.

But Heller—arguably the most vulnerable Senate Republican up for reelection next year—has now jumped on board a new bill that would deeply cut both over time.

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