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

The government transparency group American Oversight sued CMS Administrator Seema Verma and the Department of Health and Human Services on Friday after the agency refused to hand over Verma’s communications and ethics waivers regarding her involvement in major state Medicaid decisions that she previously worked on as a private consultant.

The lawsuit comes after HHS refused to respond to five FOIA requests the group filed last August and four updated requests submitted this January, and after reports that Verma violated her recusal from Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver decision.

As Verma’s CMS moves aggressively to green-light state efforts to impose work requirements, lifetime limits, premiums and other fees and restrictions on their Medicaid programs, American Oversight and congressional committees have attempted to investigate whether Verma has any conflicts of interest.

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Since coming into power last year, the Trump administration has worked to undermine and chip away at the Affordable Care Act, repealing some key provisions and encouraging states to push the envelope on cutting back their Medicaid expansions under Obamacare. But in a letter to Idaho on Thursday, CMS Administrator Seema Verma drew a red line, saying the state cannot move forward with its plan to defy the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

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Congressional Republicans’ hopes that President Trump would back down from his threat to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports were dashed Thursday when the President signed an executive order implementing the tariffs and suggested more global trade upheaval in the months to come.

“I’ll have a right to go up or down depending on the country,” he said. “We’re going to be very flexible. We’re going to see who is treating us fairly.”

In response, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) sail Thursday that he will soon draft a bill to block the tariffs from taking effect, calling Trump’s move “a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth – protectionism and uncertainty.”

“Trade wars are not won, they are only lost,” he said in a statement. “Congress cannot be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster. I will immediately draft and introduce legislation to nullify these tariffs, and I urge my colleagues to pass it before this exercise in protectionism inflicts any more damage on the economy.”

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Joseph Hunt, the current chief of staff for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is up for confirmation to be Assistant Attorney General running the Civil Division. On Wednesday, Senate Democrats grilled Hunt on his role in a number of scandals from the past year, including the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the ongoing Russia investigation.

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President Trump’s seeming declaration of a protectionist trade war, which already has ally nations threatening retaliation, has Republicans on Capitol Hill in a sweat.

But while some are agitating for the passage of a bill that would curtail the White House’s power on trade, others say the caucus lacks the political will to openly defy the President. Instead, most GOP lawmakers are urging their pro-free trade allies in the administration to coax Trump back from the ledge, and are crossing their fingers that the famously flexible President changes his mind so no action on their part is necessary.

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New polls show that, when it comes to health care, voters are most worried about rising costs heading into the 2018 midterms, and plan to hold Republicans responsible for them. Amid these concerns, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are readying a final push to pass an Obamacare stabilization bill that is aimed at lowering premiums in the individual market. There is no guarantee they’ll get it done; even if they do, it’s unclear how far a federal reinsurance program could go in reversing the damage to the market that has already been caused by a host of Trump administration policies.

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With the deadline to pass an omnibus budget bill to fund the federal government just a few weeks away, Congress is considering a rescue package for Obamacare’s troubled individual market, including funding for stabilization measures aimed at bringing down rising insurance premiums.

Lawmakers pushing the effort—begun back in the summer and fall of 2017—are hoping to counteract the damage to the individual market caused by a string of Trump administration moves, from terminating cost-sharing reduction payments for  insurance companies to defunding open enrollment outreach to encouraging the proliferation of cheap, skimpy, off-market health plans.

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President Donald Trump’s off-script comments on gun control at Wednesday’s wild, televised meeting have Republicans in a sweat, but they’re making Democrats cautiously optimistic. In the wake of Trump signaling support for an array of gun control measures and promising to stand up to the National Rifle Association, Democrats and some Republicans are rushing to introduce a slew of bills and nail down his support before the famously mercurial president changes his mind.

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A new tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds the highest ever public approval rating for the Affordable Care Act since the organization began asking the question in 2010. According to the survey, 54 percent of the public view the embattled law favorably, while 42 percent hold an unfavorable view. The major shift in public approval for the ACA since Trump took office and set about chipping away at the law has mostly been driven by independents, 55 percent of whom currently approve of Obamacare.

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