Karen Nelson, Deputy Minority Staff Director on Health, Full Committee

Margot Sanger-Katz

For more than 30 years, Karen Nelson has been the Democrats’ go-to health aide on Rep. Henry Waxman’s staff.

Now deputy staff director on health issues for committee Democrats, Nelson has helped shape the landmark Affordable Care Act, as well as Medicaid expansions, tobacco regulation, the vaccine-compensation program, and many other pieces of legislation.

“There’ve been a whole lot of things that you get a lot of satisfaction about,” she said.

Nelson Margot is trying to get her agealso maintains a vibrant life off the Hill, heading to a sporting or cultural event almost nightly. Her office is decorated with tokens of her longtime devotion to the Washington Wizards basketball team, but she’s also a regular at baseball games, theater, ballet, opera, and film events.

“The ACA put a little bit of a crimp in my style, but not as much as you’d think,” she said, laughing. When the House was involved in marathon drafting sessions for the health care bill, she’d go out to a movie or ballgame and then come back.