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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

Despite warnings from one of their own that repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate will hike the insurance premiums of millions of middle class Americans, Senate Republicans are moving forward with a tax bill that includes a provision gutting the mandate.

When asked by TPM if the mandate’s repeal would be a “death blow” to the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) first answered “kind of,” then, chuckling, amended his answer to “I hope so.”

Asked if he was concerned that repealing the mandate would—as many experts have predicted—drain the market of young and healthy people, spiking the health care premiums for those who need insurance and remain in the individual market, Inhofe told TPM: “Let’s find out. I don’t know.”

new report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that repealing the individual mandate would increase premiums at least 10 percent every year for the next 10 years. Through a combination of people choosing to go uninsured and others being priced out of the market due to these rising premiums, the CBO estimates 13 million more people will be uninsured after 10 years if the mandate is repealed.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) announced earlier on Tuesday that her office had crunched the numbers and found that for many middle class Americans, this insurance price hike would more than cancel out any of the tax breaks they would get from the rest of the GOP’s bill.

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has crunched the numbers on repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate, and she does not like what she sees.

The morning after Senate Republican leaders gave their blessing for the tax bill to include a provision gutting the mandate, the Maine senator told reporters that her staff used data from the IRS, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Kaiser Family Foundation to calculate that the large increase in health insurance premiums that would result from the mandate’s repeal would more than cancel out the tax breaks many middle class Americans would get from the rest of the GOP tax bill.

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Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

No matter how many times the full or partial repeal of Obamacare has died in Congress this year, it continues to claw its way back from the grave.

The latest incarnation, blessed on Tuesday by Senate GOP leadership, is an amendment to Republicans’ long-awaited tax overhaul bill that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate. Such a policy change would save the government more than $300 billion but cost about 13 million people their health insurance coverage, and drastically hike premiums for those who remain in the individual market, experts say.

Pursuing such a health policy in tandem with tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations is politically risky—and powerful medical organizations are already mobilizing in opposition to the bill.

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Cameron Joseph contributed reporting.

On Tuesday, after weeks of agitation from President Trump and hard-right lawmakers, Senate GOP leadership signaled for the first time that it is amenable to inserting a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate into their tax overhaul bill.

“We’re optimistic that inserting the individual mandate repeal would be helpful, and that’s obviously the view of the Senate Finance Committee Republicans as well,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters, indicating that the policy could be inserted during the committee markup process as early as this week.

The office of Sen. John Thune (R-SD), a member of the Senate leadership team, confirmed to TPM that the final Senate tax bill would include the mandate’s repeal.

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The sexual harassment reckoning that has this year descended upon Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and the nation’s newsrooms has reached Capitol Hill, where stories about groping lawmakers and abusive senior staffers have simmered for decades. On Tuesday, a House committee held a hearing on a bill that would make sexual harassment training mandatory. Such training is currently voluntary and in the words of one committee member “under-utilized.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) confirmed late Thursday afternoon that the bill would become law. “Going forward, the House will adopt a policy of mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all Members and staff,” he said in a statement. “Our goal is not only to raise awareness, but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution.”

But Republicans and Democrats alike say this step is not enough, and are demanding reforms to Congress’ process for reporting sexual harassment and assault—a process lawmakers say is “broken,” “from the Dark Ages,” and discourages victims from coming forward.

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On Monday morning, President Donald Trump unveiled his pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services, which has been leaderless since Secretary Tom Price resigned in late September over his use of private jets on the taxpayer’s dime.

The nominee is Alex Azar, a former executive at the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co., who worked at HHS under President George W. Bush.

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President Trump has repeatedly declared the Affordable Care Act “dead” and his administration has done nearly everything possible to make it so. Yet the first enrollment numbers released Thursday by the Department of Human Services show the program very much alive.

According to HHS, more than 600,000 people signed up for a health care plan in the first four days of open enrollment, beginning on Nov. 1. Last year, under an administration pulling out all the stops to promote enrollment, just over 415,000 signed up in the first five days. Importantly, nearly a quarter of this year’s signups are from new enrollees who did not previously have a health care plan on Obamacare’s individual market.

For experts who predicted signups would crater this year thanks to the Trump administration gutting the budget for outreach and enrollment assistance, the rosy early numbers are a surprise, but they cautioned that anything could happen by the Dec. 15 deadline.

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Democrats dominated elections across the country Tuesday night, and health care was a major issue on the ballot both explicitly and implicitly.

Voters in Maine overwhelmingly backed a measure to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to more than 80,000 state residents, voters in Virginia’s blue wave named health care as their top issue, and pro-Obamacare candidates won on the state and local level from New Jersey to Georgia.

But on Capitol Hill, most Republican lawmakers told TPM they don’t plan to change course on health care, and will continue working to repeal the Medicaid expansion and the entirety of the ACA. Despite polls showing that more Americans approve of Obamacare than at any time since its implementation, and the vast majority disapprove of Republican bills to repeal it, GOP members said the message they got from Tuesday’s elections was that their failure to deliver “results” is what is hurting Republicans, not their repeated attempts to gut the ACA.

Democrats, meanwhile, say the GOP’s health care agenda is guaranteeing its own electoral doom in 2018.

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