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 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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A wide array of groups that partnered for several years with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House to promote open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act say this year has brought a deafening silence from the Trump administration, with no sign the partnerships will continue.

Both representatives of the former partner groups and former HHS officials say the relationships with gig economy companies, youth organizations, churches, women’s groups, and African American and Latino civil rights non-profits were critical to keeping Obamacare’s markets functioning, and their termination is a clear example of sabotage.

“The failure to invest in local assistance and these enrollment partnerships will reduce enrollment, increase costs and drive up the uninsured rate,” warned Andy Slavitt, former head of HHS’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama. “Hopefully they will reconsider taking these destructive actions.”

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By early August in recent years, Luis Torres was in the midst of a health care blitz, meeting weekly with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House to prepare for the start of the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period on Nov. 1.

As the policy director for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Torres was a key member of the Latino Affordable Care Act Coalition—a group of local and national organizations that since 2013 has worked with HHS and the White House to develop outreach and education campaigns specifically aimed at helping millions of Latinos sign up for health insurance.

But this year, Torres told TPM, that flurry of activity came to an abrupt halt.

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In yet another reversal of a previous Justice Department stance on voting rights, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ DOJ has weighed in on a pending Supreme Court case regarding Ohio’s practice of purging inactive voters from its rolls.

The department argued in an amicus brief that Ohio’s voter purges, which have disproportionately hit Democrats and African Americans, are lawful. That’s the opposite of what the DOJ under Attorney General Loretta Lynch said about the case last year.

“Among other things, accurate registration lists are essential to prevent[ing] voter fraud,” the brief asserts.

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