Nina Owcharenko Schaefer

Nina Owcharenko Schaefer

Director, Center for Health and Welfare Policy

Areas of Expertise

  • Health Care Reform
  • Medicaid
  • Public Health

Nina Owcharenko Schaefer is well known as a champion of patient choice and robust competition in America’s health insurance markets.

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Nina Owcharenko Schaefer is Director of the Center for Health and Welfare Policy at The Heritage Foundation.

Previously, Schaefer served in the Trump Administration as Senior Counselor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In that high-level capacity, Schaefer advanced Presidential and Secretary policy priorities at the agency, including managing the development of the HHS response to the opioid abuse crisis.

Schaefer is a studied expert on health care reform on both the federal and state levels. She has researched and advised on health reform, Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and prescription drugs.

She is well known in Washington policy circles as a champion of patient choice and robust competition in America’s health insurance markets.

Schaefer, who has served as Heritage’s Director of Health Policy Studies and joined the organization originally in 2001, also was named Preston A. Wells Jr. Fellow in Health Policy in April 2012. As Deputy Director in 2009, she coordinated the think tank’s related research and was the lead advocate of its stances as debate in Congress over health care reform heated up.

She has made the case for consumer-based health policy solutions as a guest expert on dozens of radio and television programs. Her research and analysis have been published in newspapers and periodicals around the country, as well as in such noted policy journals as Health Affairs. She has made presentations at national, state and professional conferences.

Schaefer understands the inner workings of Congress, having worked for nearly a decade as a Capitol Hill staffer. She served as Legislative Director to former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) when he was a representative and to Rep. Sue Myrick (R-North Carolina). She began her Hill career on the staff of the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina).

The Preston Wells Jr. fellowship, made possible by the Florida-based Lillian S. Wells Foundation, recognized Schaefer's leadership in opposition to what Americans now call “Obamacare” and in efforts to move America to patient-centered, market-based health care. Wells, an entrepreneur, served on Heritage’s Board of Trustees from 1994 until his death in 2003.

In 2008, Schaefer won Heritage’s prestigious W. Glenn and Rita Ricardo Campbell Award in recognition of specialized but high-profile work on the uninsured and related issues, in particular the SCHIP. Each year, the award goes to a policy expert who has made “an outstanding contribution to the analysis and promotion of a free society.”

Schaefer received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1994. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, she currently resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband and son.