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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

Amid the chaos on Capitol Hill Thursday as GOP leaders failed to muster the votes for their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Congressional Budget Office released its assessment of the most recent revision of the bill. The CBO had little good news for Republicans: 24 million people would still lose insurance over 10 years under the revised legislation, and it would do far less than the original bill to reduce the federal deficit.

The original bill was slated to reduce the deficit by $337 billion over a decade, but amendments proposed to win over the votes of moderate Republicans nervous about the bill's impact on their lower-income and elderly constituents would cost the government an additional $186 billion.

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Updated at 2 p.m. ET

As the House struggles to agree on a path forward on its bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, GOP leaders may cave to a demand from hardline conservatives to scrap Obamacare's Essential Health Benefits rule—the mandate that insurance plans cover things like hospitalizations, prescription drugs, mental health and maternity care.

TPM asked Republicans on the other side of the Capitol about whether such a move would fly in the Senate.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), when asked if he supports scrapping EHBs, deadpanned: "I sure don't want my mammogram benefits taken away."

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As Thursday's House vote on the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act looms, the pressure is ramping up on GOP lawmakers who remain undecided or opposed to the legislation. Even after threats to their careers, invitations to the White House, special carve-outs for their states, amendments on their pet issues, and other tactics, critics of the bill still say enough members are holding strong to ensure the bill will fail on the House floor.

As the clock ticked down on Wednesday, Republican leaders made a new promise to the dissenters: that the Senate will add a provision gutting Obamacare's Essential Health Benefits (EHB) rule once the House passes the bill and sends it their way.

The EHB rule, which the current House GOP repeal bill retains, requires that insurance plans have to cover a basic minimum of health care services, including emergency room visits, hospitalization, outpatient services, maternity care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative and habilitative services, lab tests, preventive care like vaccines, and vision and dental care for children.

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In a marathon markup of the bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, Republicans argued that a package of amendments unveiled Monday night would make the legislation more "patient-centered" by giving Americans more "choices" and "freedom" in the health care market.

But among the provisions increasing tax credits for older Americans and allowing states to impose work requirements on their Medicaid recipients, lawmakers tucked in a provision that limits the freedom and choices available for how people can spend the federal dollars meted out under the Republican plan.

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Less than 48 hours ahead of Thursday's House floor vote on the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, some Republican lawmakers were openly worrying about what would happen if the bill goes down in flames.

“It will really make us look bad in the eyes of the public, and this unity we have now—the House, Senate, and presidency—could be hurt in 2018," warned a still-undecided Rep. Peter King (R-NY) following a meeting with President Trump in the basement of the Capitol Tuesday morning. “It’s bad for the whole Republican agenda if we can’t make it on this one. It’ll hurt us on everything going forward. It makes us look like we can’t get our act together.”

King and other lawmakers said Trump made an even more direct warning in the meeting, telling House members that they would be "ripe for a primary" challenge in 2018 if they did not fall in line and back the bill. The Trump administration and GOP leadership offered carrots as well as sticks to wavering and dissenting members, unveiling a package of amendments Monday night designed to assuage the concerns of both moderates and conservatives.

Still, the gambit may fail. Several Republicans publicly declared their opposition to the bill even after Trump's sales pitch, and members of the hardline Freedom Caucus say they have the votes to bring the repeal effort to a screeching halt.

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With a House vote on the GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act just over the horizon, President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning huddled in the basement of the Capitol to pressure a divided Republican caucus to fall in line.

Lawmakers exiting the meeting told reporters that Trump bluntly told them their seats would be in jeopardy in 2018 if they did not vote "yes" Thursday on the American Health Care Act.

"He said, 'Y'all ran on repealing Obamacare. Looks like you'd be ripe for a primary if you don't keep your promise,'" Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) said. "And I think he made the sale. I think he moved a handful of votes. We know we have a historic opportunity to get stuff done, and we can't blow it. I'd hate to go back home to Texas and say I had the opportunity to repeal Obamacare and I didn't."

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President Donald Trump took to Twitter in the middle of the House Intelligence Committee's hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election to cherry-pick a few moments that cast his administration in a positive light, while ignoring the most damning revelations from the morning.

As the hearing dragged into its fifth hour, Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) read aloud one of the President's tweets from the dais and asked Comey to fact-check it.

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, opened Monday's bombshell hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election by warning that if it happened once, it can happen again.

"Only by understanding what the Russians did can we inoculate ourselves from the further Russian interference we know is coming," he said.

Roughly three hours into the hearing, FBI Director James Comey agreed with him.

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Two bombshells dropped during the first hour of Monday's House Intelligence Committee hearing: FBI Director James Comey confirmed that the agency was conducting an ongoing investigation into potential "coordination" between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, and he refused to back President Trump's claim that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the election.

But during his round of questioning, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) instead focused on what he considers the real scandal from the past few months: that someone in the government leaked to the press that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had undisclosed contact with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

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