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Former Nelson Staffer Joins Health Awareness Group | Hill Climber

The Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness has hired Rebecca Murow Klein as an associate director of government affairs. She started on Aug. 1.

Klein, a Nebraska native and University of Michigan graduate, previously worked for the National Jewish Democratic Council and for former Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., most recently as Nelson’s legislative assistant for health and education policy. Klein said her previous experience would tie into her new role and she said she’s excited about the opportunity to focus on policy issues and to be a liaison for health issues, especially as legislation like the Affordable Care Act rolls out.

“I think most importantly I’m excited about being able to combine what I’ve learned in both of my previous offices, both the advocacy and policy side,” Klein said. “The one thing that sort of ties everything together is my ability to work with members and constituents and advocate for them, whether it’s on the Hill or in Washington.”

After college, Klein joined the NJDC, working on development, communications and member education before joining Nelson’s office in 2009.

“There wasn’t much of a policy shop at NJDC, and in 2009 I moved over to the Hill to get some of that policy experience, and I’m from Nebraska so I went to work for my home-state senator,” Klein said.

Despite being a long way from the Cornhusker State, Klein said she loves Washington.

“I love being in D.C.,” Klein said. “I spent summers out here during college … and having had experience participating and volunteering for political campaigns … kind of influenced my desire to be in D.C.”

Klein worked on financial services issues before moving into health care and education policy for Nelson, which included the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion.

Nelson was a key fixture of the debate over the health care overhaul, particularly its Medicaid provisions. In the initial Senate debate, Nelson secured what came to be known as the “Cornhusker Kickback,” a provision that covered the cost of Nebraska’s Medicaid expansion in exchange for his support of the overall measure. When the overall legislation passed, through reconciliation, the following year, that provision had been expanded so all states had support for the Medicaid expansion.

While Klein was working for Nelson at the time of the health care overhaul debate, she was still assigned to financial services. After the legislation passed, she began working on the health beat.

The ABHW advocates for behavioral health and wellness companies, including Aetna Behavioral Health, Beacon Health Strategies and Cigna.