NAIFA Massachusetts had their third and final Day on the Hill (DOH) event for the 2011/2012 legislative year on Thursday May 31st. The event closed out a very busy and equally productive effort this year to put NAIFA front and center on the minds of MA state legislators when considering bills that impact the financial services industry. As the legislative session comes to a close, over 60 NAIFA MA members took their message to Beacon Hill and make a final push to “Finish the Mission” and get three key pieces of legislation passed.
The day fittingly kicked off with an orientation breakfast at the Omni Parker House in the Kennedy room, which is the location where our organization was founded over 150 years ago. The attendees were first addressed by NAIFA MA President Alan Stearly, Government Relations Chairman Adam Sachs and NAIFA National Trustee Jules Gaudreau, all of whom outlined the importance of our industry and pointed to the vital role NAIFA plays in maintaining a productive legislative environment at the national, state and local levels. Sachs carefully summarized the three bills and provided salient talking points which prepared participants to confidently discuss the proposed legislation and NAIFA MA’s position with their elected officials and staff members.
The keynote speaker for the event was West Roxbury native Lynn Wightman. Lynn shared her heart-wrenching story of how both her parents were stricken with early onset dementia and related the integral role that Long Term Care coverage played in allowing her parents to maintain independence and choice in their care. Lynn's story underscored the importance of the Long Term Care Standards bill currently being debated in the Senate. Her real-life story demonstrated the value of purchasing individual Long Term Care protection, and how motivating clients to obtain a minimum standard of coverage can protect both the Commonwealth and its residents.
The final speaker of the morning was Tom Samoluk, Vice President of John Hancock’s Government Relations Department. Samoluk’s extensive experience in the Government Relations arena went a long way toward helping both newcomers and veterans get a better understanding of how to conduct productive meetings with their representatives. He vividly demonstrated the importance legislators place on constituent meetings by showing a graph depicting face to face meetings as the single most influential method of communicating with our government representatives.
The breakfast meeting closed at 10 am at which time NAIFA MA advocates dispersed for their scheduled meetings on Beacon Hill. For many, this was their third visit to the Hill during the current legislative session, and they have come to know legislators and their staff on a first name basis. Prior DOH advocacy efforts were apparent as many NAIFA MA members related stories of how legislators and staff knew the bills NAIFA was there to discuss, and they were prepared with questions to learn more about our position. For NAIFA MA members attending their first DOH event, they felt well prepared for their meetings, and their participation went a long way toward promoting our advocacy efforts.
“While I’m an active NAIFA member, I never got involved in advocacy events before. I didn’t think I was experienced enough to make any real contribution, and quite frankly, I was a bit intimidated by the lobbying process. Nevertheless, I decided to attend the DOH on May 31st, and I teamed-up with Susie Caspar and Anne Fletcher, both passionate NAIFA MA supporters and experienced DOH lobbyist. After the 2 hour orientation in the morning and observing Susie and Anne during our first meeting, I quickly learned how to position our arguments professionally and succinctly, and began to feel comfortable adding my own “two cents” on certain matters. Adam Sachs invited me to attend his final two appointments of the day, and I was impressed how warmly he was received by the Senators and Representatives, as well as their legislative aides. Sitting across from Senator Karen Spilka, she educated me on the process of how bills get introduced and presented for votes between the House and Senate, and I educated her on the important role health insurance agents play in helping small business owners in Massachusetts make crucial decisions to comply with state-mandated health care coverage. It was truly a collaborative dialogue, and I was energized by participating in the legislative process. I left Beacon Hill feeling more empowered to get personally involved in any political matter that concerns me, professionally or personally.”
~ Margaret Ellison Simonds, First American Insurance Underwriters
As a whole, the advocacy efforts of NAIFA MA have proved to be fruitful this year. On June 1st, the day following NAIFA MA’s DOH event, there was an amendment announced in the House that mirrored the Medical Loss Ratio verbiage in MA House Bill HB 1206, which NAIFA strongly supports. In addition, MA Senate Bill SB 1234, the Long Term Care Standards Bill, has been reported favorable in the Senate. As the political environment becomes more uncertain, it is increasingly important for financial service professionals to get involved and stay involved in the political process.
This report was prepared by Josh O'Gara of First American Insurance Underwriters and a Committee Member of the NAIFA Massachusetts Public Relations Committee
If you have any interest in learning how you can participate in future Government Relations events, please contact the Membership Committee or our Government Relations team.