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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

After a year of backroom, closed-door, GOP-only meetings on health care, and a bitter, partisan floor fight over repealing the Affordable Care Act that eventually collapsed, senators from both parties came together to hold nearly half-a-dozen public hearings and hammer out a bill to stabilize Obamacare’s vulnerable insurance exchanges by the end of September.

But beneath the bipartisan bonhomie, there is trouble in paradise.

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In the hectic days since President Donald Trump announced his decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, putting 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children at risk of deportation as early as next March, the broad outlines of a bipartisan deal to protect that population have begun to emerge.

Republicans and Democrats alike have voiced openness to some kind of agreement that pairs relief for former DACA recipients with throwing money at border security and immigration enforcement. (Democratic leaders originally demanded a clean, stand-alone DACA fix but almost immediately backed down after it became clear Republicans would never allow it to come to the floor.)

But as with so much else this year, the wild card is Trump himself.

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At this Congress’s first bipartisan public hearing on health care reform, after a year of Republicans drafting bills behind closed doors, health insurance commissioners from across the country testified to senators that the Trump administration’s multi-pronged sabotage of the Affordable Care Act is driving up rates and sowing uncertainty in their states.

“The narrative that the ACA is failing and imploding is just false,” Teresa Miller, the Pennsylvania insurance commissioner, told the Senate Health, Labor, Education and Pensions (HELP) committee hearing Wednesday. Instead, she emphasized, the Trump administration’s rollback of outreach, threats to end payments to insurers, and mixed messages on enforcement of the individual mandate is throwing the country into chaos.

“I cannot stress enough how difficult that uncertainty is on our markets,” she said.

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August is usually time for Washington to catch its breath, with Congress and the president out of town on recess. But this August brought a non-stop barrage of news, from the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey, to the pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s federal contempt charge, to mutual saber rattling with a potentially nuclear-armed North Korea, to the death of a protester at the hand of a white supremacist in Charlottesville.

September promises to be just as wild, especially in the health care space.

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President Donald Trump returned to the Houston area on Saturday to meet with survivors of Hurricane Harvey and participate in relief efforts—which he did not do during his first visit to the disaster-stricken region earlier this week.

In a visit to one of Houston’s designated emergency refuge areas, the NRG Center, Trump told reporters he is seeing “a lot of happiness.”

“It’s been really nice,” he said, according to the traveling press pool. “It’s been a wonderful thing. As tough as this was, it’s been a wonderful thing, I think even for the country to watch it and for the world to watch. It’s been beautiful.”

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