Winter 2017-2018 Newsletter Print

    President's Message

    Moving Forward; Eyes on the Prize

    Change is hard, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Einstein.

    I do appreciate all the individual leaders who came before us in this association. They paved the way for all of us, and I have personally enjoyed visiting and asking for their guidance in my current role with our association.

    Again, our industry has evolved more in the last seven years than the previous thirty. Go back ten years ago and think about the vendors we had at our symposiums versus today.

    Believe me, sometimes I long for the days when most of my renewals weren’t in the fourth quarter. I looked forward to this time of year with the holidays and great anticipation of what was going to show up under the Christmas tree. I still love this time of year, and I am certain we will get balance back in our work year.

    Again, “change is hard.” The big change with our association this year is we have a new lobbyist. This decision was not an easy one. The search committee, which I personally served on, received over 300 applicants that we had to filter through as we narrowed it down to six candidates. From there two candidates, along with our current lobbyist, were asked to give a presentation to the entire board.

    This decision effected every member in the association. That’s why we needed the entire board involved in the final process. I hope all of you will have the opportunity to meet our new lobbyist, Shannon Meroney, along with her partner in life and business, Mike Meroney.

    I highly recommend you come to Day at the Capital in January. This will be a great opportunity to meet them in person and hear their vision for our association going forward.

    I know we had a lot of support for Lee Manross and “change is hard”… Lee served our association well and developed great relationships with a lot of our members. He is a true friend to this association, and I wish him well.

    We all have something to be thankful for. This time of year reminds us of family and friends we cherish most. The Christmas holiday season brings out the best in all of us.

    I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a great New Year.

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    In Memoriam

    We all at one time or another have suffered the loss of someone dear to us or a loved one. These times can be… well you know.

    With the recent passing of this editor’s family member, I came across a poem that was written by Bishop Brent called What is Dying?

    What is Dying?
    A ship sails and I stand watching till she fades
    on the horizon and someone at my side says,
    “She is gone.”
    Gone where?
    Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as
    large as when I last saw her.
    The demised size and total loss of sight is in
    me, not in her.
    And just as the moment when someone at my side
    says, “she is gone” there are others who are
    Watching her coming, and other voices take
    up a glad shout, “There she comes!”
    Bishop Brent

    Our prayers and thoughts are with our Lubbock and South Texas family members:

    Jay Koch, son of Lubbock member Danny Koch, passed away 11/20/2017.

    Chuck Walker, Lubbock, FirstCare, Vice-President of Sales passed away 11/29/2017.

    Additionally, Agueda Newkirk, mother of South Texas member Pierre Newkirk, passed away on 10/26/17. Our thoughts are with all these families during the holiday season.

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    Editor's Note

    TAHU Magazine is YOUR Magazine; Get Involved!

    Thanks for picking up the winter issue of the TAHU magazine. We’re glad to welcome you to the family.

    As you’ll see on the cover, this issue introduces a new logo and new look. When I was asked to take over the publication as editor, I wanted to make it a priority to evolve our logo to better convey that the great state of Texas is a big part of who we are. As we all know, “everything is bigger in Texas!” Our logo needed to reflect that, and also include a nod to our great state flag.

    My wife and I have always told our children that life is what you make of it, and that holds true for our TAHU family as well. Our association is what we make of it, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a member.

    That said – I need your help. This magazine will become what we ALL make of it. Please be on the lookout for great stories about our members and association, and let me know about them. Keep in mind that every good song, book or magazine starts off with a good story; everyone – the greeter at your neighborhood big-box store, the usher at church, even the littlest kindergartner – has a story to tell. Get in the habit of looking for those stories about the people who make up our organization, and send them to me to fill our member spotlight section.

    I want this relationship to be a two-way street. Drop me a line, send me your stories, include lots of pictures – help us all get to know our extended Texas TAHU family. Your stories are our stories, and by sharing, you can help guide your colleagues through these uncertain times. May we all band together for a better future.

    Enjoy this issue, and keep in touch.

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    Legislative News

    Gov. Abbott Appoints Kent Sullivan - Insurance Commissioner

    Kent Sullivan was appointed Commissioner of Insurance by Gov. Greg Abbott on September 21, 2017. He oversees the Texas Department of Insurance, which regulates the insurance industry and protects consumers. The agency has almost 1,400 employees statewide and an annual budget of more than $110 million.

    Commissioner Sullivan has 35 years of legal experience. He previously served as a justice on the Texas Court of Appeals, a state district court judge, and first assistant attorney general for the Texas Office of the Attorney General.

    Before joining TDI, Commissioner Sullivan was in private law practice with the law firm Jackson Walker, where he represented clients in complex civil litigation, government relations, and investigations. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Houston and Austin Bar Associations, and a life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. He has served on the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors, the Texas Center for the Judiciary Board of Directors, the Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, and the Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee.

    He has held positions of significance in almost every area of the legal profession. Those include service as the Texas First Assistant Attorney General, a Justice on the Texas Court of Appeals, and a District Judge – in addition to over 25 years of private practice experience.

    Kent was appointed by the Attorney General (now governor) Greg Abbott to serve as First Assistant Attorney General, overseeing both the legal and administrative functions of the 800-attorney agency. As such, he was responsible for coordinating the legal representation of Texas in the various state and federal courts as well as providing requested legal advice and support for the state’s elected representatives and its many administrative agencies. He built and oversaw the current Texas Civil Medicaid Fraud (CMF) division, one of the most potent state healthcare fraud units in the country that has recovered more than $1.7 billion for taxpayers. He also served as legislative liaison for amending and updating the CMF statute and strategically managed operations for the Consumer Protection divisions.

    As a Justice on the Texas Court of Appeals in Houston, he participated in the disposition of hundreds of appeals and personally authored more than 75 opinions. As a District Judge, he presided over multiparty cases to verdict involving such diverse subject matter as intellectual property rights and casino management fees.

    Career Highlights
    • Texas First Assistant Attorney General (2006-2008)
    • Justice, Texas Court of Appeals (2008-2010)
    • District Judge (2003-2006)
    • Federal Judicial Evaluation Cmte., appointed by U.S. Senators Cornyn & Cruz (2013-Present)
    • Texas Supreme Court Advisory Committee (2003-Present)
    • Texas Pattern Jury Charge Committee (2003-Present)


    Meroney Public Affairs: Introduction to TAHU Membership

    On October 19, 2017, the TAHU Board met and interviewed the three finalists to our Lobbyist RFP. After discussion, the Board voted to award the contract to Meroney Public Affairs, who began their representation on November 1. I sat down recently with Shannon Meroney, president, who had this to share with me about the firm’s representation of TAHU.

    On behalf of my business partner and husband, Mike, I’d like to introduce our firm to the TAHU membership. We look forward to meeting you, working with you, and representing this well-respected organization at the Texas Capitol and regulatory agencies going forward.

    First, we want to say thank you to the TAHU Board of Directors for selecting our firm to be your advocates in Austin. We know that change can be very difficult, but assure you that we are strongly committed to a smooth and seamless transition.

    Second, we hope you’ll have a comfort level with our experience and expertise in health care and the health insurance insurance marketplace. I met many of you either during or after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, when I represented Aetna as its Texas-based in-house lobbyist for eight years. After the ACA was enacted, I visited many of TAHU’s chapters and briefed you on the final provisions of the law, long term implications, and how the changes would impact our industry. It was a scary time for all of us in the industry. I am optimistic that we may now see the pendulum swing back in our direction under a Republican controlled White House. In any case, change has become constant in our industry, and I look forward to helping you navigate it.

    Third, we look forward to providing top-notch advocacy, while bringing new and innovative ideas to TAHU to help ensure your organization always has a “reserved seat” at the table. We hope to share new ideas with you about how to grow the TAHU Political Action Committee (which currently has less than 10% of the membership’s support) and coordinate TAHU’s membership for grassroots relationship- building events with Representatives and Senators in their districts and your hometown.

    TAHU must be seen as both a “consumer advocate” at the Capitol and Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), but also a technical expert in the marketplace. We look forward to helping you achieve both of those things.

    Meroney Public Affairs, LLC

    Early on our separate careers in government relations resulted in our meeting while working on a mutual issue at the Texas Capitol during the legislative session in 2003. Our firm – Meroney Public Affairs – was formed in September of 2014, when Mike and I finally left our corporate employers and joined forces as professional partners and independent lobbyists.

    Mike, who has a degree in communications and previously worked as a journalist, was working as a public affairs consultant for a large national chemical manufacturer, after a stint as a staffer for a U.S. Senator in Washington, D.C. He also had experience as public relations professional in telecommunications, and a government relations manager with a national public relations firm.

    I’m an attorney who spent my first ten years in private practice as a healthcare litigator. I had moved into a state agency role focusing on legislative relations during the tort reform debate. Later, I returned to private practice as a Partner at Thompson Coe Cousins & Irons to manage a successful government relations practice representing clients on multiple insurance related issues. Our clients included national insurance carriers and Texas trade associations, including the Texas Association of Life & Health Insurers (TALHI).

    Mike Meroney

    Mike has had a successful private lobby practice representing a variety of corporate clients since 2009. He was a founding member of the Texas Association of Manufacturers (TAM), serving as the group’s first Secretary and Treasurer for three years. Mike is an active member of the Texas Chemical Council (TCC), has served as vice-chairman of the TCC Advocacy Committee and chaired the industry’s Chemicals Day at the Texas Capitol in ‘05, ‘07 and ‘09.

    Mike currently serves on the 2017-18 Texas Accountability Policy Advisory Committee (APAC), which advises Education Commissioner Mike Morath on the state’s accountability system. He also served on the Career & Technical Education (CTE) TEKS Review Committee, responsible for current rewrite of the “essential knowledge and skills” for career and technical education.

    Every session from 2011 to 2017, Mike has been recognized and ranked as one the top 100 “Hired Gun” Lobbyists in Texas by the online political magazine Capitol Inside. Prior to 2009, Mike was the state and federal lobbyist for Huntsman Corporation – a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals. In both 2007 and 2009, Capitol Inside listed Mike as one of the top 25 In- House Corporate Lobbyists in Texas.

    Shannon Meroney

    From 2006 to 2014, I worked in-house for Aetna, a Fortune 100 company and the country’s third largest health insurance plan. Most recently at Aetna, I was the Account Executive for one of the company’s largest government accounts: the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) retired teacher account. In my first two years of private lobby practice, Capitol Inside also ranked me as one the top 100 “Hired Gun” Lobbyists in Texas during sessions in 2015 and 2017.

    In addition to managing Aetna’s relationship with TRS and providing consultative advice and counsel regarding all aspects of their retiree health insurance plan, I worked on Aetna’s government procurement team, which recently won TRS’ active teacher account from the incumbent health insurance carrier, which had managed the business since its inception. As part of this success, I was proud to be named to Aetna’s “Gold Circle,” its highest-level internal sales achievement award.

    Prior to leading the TRS team, I managed a multi-state region for Aetna as a Senior State Government Affairs Manager for six years. In that capacity, I represented Aetna as a member of the Texas Association of Health Plans, was elected president of that organization, helped identify and create Aetna’s healthcare policy priorities, drafted legislation to achieve those goals, led and conducted direct advocacy efforts with state legislators and regulating agencies, and organized coalitions to support/defeat legislation consistent with Aetna’s priorities. Over several years, I also managed the relationship of multiple external consultants and lobbyists for Aetna in several states, including overseeing budgets and trade association memberships.

    Finally, our personal civic involvement over the years has resulted in an extensive network of colleagues and connections in multiple areas of local government. We both have training and experience in working with large groups of diverse personalities, and are adept in coalition development and management – a key part of successful government relations. We are both graduates of the Leadership Austin program and have Board experience for the organization, as well as many other non-profits.

    We are excited to join TAHU’s team of experienced health insurance experts. We look forward to getting to know and work with many of you in the years ahead. We are excited to share our many years of Legislative experiences with you and hope to take TAHU to new heights together.

    We will be getting out to the local chapters in the near future to meet you. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to give us a ring if you’re in Austin and have time for coffee. Our offices are downtown in an historic building just a few blocks west of the Capitol. Call us any time.

    2017 Election Results – Your Voice Was Heard

    On November 7, 2017, Texans went to their precincts in small numbers and voted to approve all seven propositions that were on their ballot. According to new TAHU Lobbyist – Mike Meroney – 5.6% of Texans turned out to vote on proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.

    There are 19,307,355 eligible voters that reside in the state of Texas, of which 15,100,824 are registered according to 2016 statistics. On November 7, approximately 845,646 made their vote count.

    Here is the breakdown of the election results from the office of Meroney Public Affairs.

    Prop 1

    Broadens scope of homestead ad valorem tax exemption for disabled veteran or spouse:
    In Favor 749,076
    Against 122,014

    Prop 2

    Prescribes conditions, fees, refinancing options, and eligibility for home equity loans:
    In Favor 588,271
    Against 269,176

    Prop 3

    Limits the service of certain gubernatorial appointees after expiration of term:
    In Favor 717,353
    Against 145,442

    Prop 4

    Relates to notice requirements to Attorney General regarding challenge to constitutionality:
    In Favor 549,360
    Against 304,509

    Prop 5

    Permits additional professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct raffles:
    In Favor 506,902
    Against 333,172

    Prop 6

    Provides homestead exemption for deceased (line of duty) first responder’s surviving spouse:
    In Favor 733,925
    Against 133,307

    Prop 7

    Permits financial institutions to award random prizes to customers to encourage savings:
    In Favor 507,797
    Against 343,175

    The Need is NOW!

    While you may think that since the Texas Legislature is out of session, things will quiet down for a while politically, nothing could be farther from the truth. Austin is still a hotbed of activity.

    The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has a new commissioner: Kent Sullivan was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott on September 21st and sworn in last month. Kent is an attorney and was most recently a partner in the Houston law firm Jackson Walker. With more than 35 years of legal experience, Sullivan has served as a Justice on the Texas Court of Appeals, as a District Court Judge, and as First Assistant Attorney General for Texas office of the Attorney General.

    You may be asking, why does this matter to me? We are hopeful that new leadership at the agency will give TDI staff the guidance they need to review and make decisions on the 1332 waivers to eliminate the risk corridors between metallic plans. You may recall that the Texas Legislature recently granted authority to TDI to review and file for a waiver to HHS, but so far the department has been hesitant to take action without a commissioner.

    TAHU supports the 1332 waivers because every year, plans are required by law to be discontinued and replaced by carriers to follow actuarial value requirements set by the Affordable Care Act. This situation creates confusion with our customers, employees and individuals, not to mention an enormous amount of work that results for agents to answer questions and manage plan changes or carrier changes.

    TAHU will continue to work hard to educate and inform and support the department as they go through this process. Operation costs footed by association dues and contributions to the Legislative Fund will be important in financing our activities in support of this effort.

    Additionally, there will be a lot of new faces at the legislature next session. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus shocked the political landscape with the announcement that he would not seek reelection to his house seat, creating an open Speaker’s race for the first time since 1993. Additionally, House State Affairs Committee chairman Byron Cook has also announced his retirement from the House.

    Others who have announced their retirement from the House include: House Insurance Committee Chairman Larry Phillips; House Elections Committee Chair Jodie Laubenberg; House Redistricting Committee Chair Cindy Burkett (running for Texas Senate); Texas Sunset Commission Chair Larry Gonzales; Rep. Mark Keough (running for Montgomery County Judge); and Rep. Pat Fallon (also running for Texas Senate).

    With so many leadership seats and chairmanships being vacated, Texas will definitely have a wilder than usual political season. It is important that TAHU have a seat at the table when our priority issues are discussed and debated. We obtained that seat through years of honest advice on the issues, regardless of the ideology of the legislator.

    Political Action Committee (PAC) dollars are also vitally important in maintaining that seat at the table. When we support candidates who understand our businesses and key priorities, we help cultivate champions in elected office who are able to lend a voice to our industry’s challenges and opportunities. It is important that we are prepared to apply our dollars at key points, and to position TAHU for success, we need contributions now.

    It is easy to contribute. Go to TAHUPAC. org and click on the “Contribute” button. Fill out the online form or download the paper contribution form. While we prefer monthly bank drafts, credit card monthly donations and one-time donations are also appreciated. If every member of TAHU donated at the “Gold” level of $12.50 per month, our war chest would grow significantly.

    Just like saving for retirement when you are younger, we must get ready NOW for the upcoming political season. If we wait until we are close to the session, we will find that other interests have already started, and perhaps finished, the conversation without us.

    Please consider contributing now. If you already contribute, please consider increasing your donation. We thank you in advance for your support.

    On the topic of contributing, here is an update on the Chapter Challenge Year To Date (YTD) chapter performance. On a state level, we are 65% of YTD goals through the first quarter of the board year (July-June). As you can see there is much work to do to catch up with our goals. The good news is that three chapters are leading the way:
    Coastal Bend: 302% YTD
    Texoma: 144% YTD
    San Antonio: 105% YTD

    Congratulations on these big hitters and keep the momentum. Let’s see if we can’t get more chapters topping that 100% YTD number after the second board quarter ending in December. I know that Dallas has already made a nice dent with their contribution at the October board meeting.

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    Member Spotlight

    In Times of Adversity

    By Ron Byrd – Editor

    Fred Rogers, longtime host of the children’s show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” once shared with his audience a story in which his mother had comforted him in a time of disaster and tragedy. “Look for the helpers,” she told him. “You will always find people who are there to help.”

    Those words could have been used to comfort some of our TAHU family members who were impacted on August 25, 2017, when Category 4 Hurricane Harvey slammed into our Houston and Coastal Bend chapter borders.

    Hurricane Harvey caused over $180 billion in damage, affecting more than 203,000 homes, destroying around 13,000 of them. Harvey’s aftermath sent more than 738,000 people to register for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after the catastrophic storm made landfall three separate times in six days. At the storm’s peak on September 1, one-third of Houston was under water.

    Several TAHU members met Harvey’s wrath.

    HAHU member Neldia Ahlquist of Lake Jackson remembers that during the 2016 Texas floods, her home filled with 9.5 inches of water, forcing the family to seek shelter at a local motel. A year later, Harvey flooded their home with 4.5 feet of muddy water.

    They’d been warned that because their house had flooded in 2016, they’d likely see water again, so they purchased cinder blocks and stacked their furniture on top of them; they placed clothes on top of mattresses and dishes on the tops of tables; and filled the bathtub with shoes and purses. They figured since they had taken in less than a foot of water the last time, they’d be safe; the possibility of having 4.5 feet of water in their home had never occurred to them.

    “We thought we knew the definition of horrific until we walked into our house after Harvey hit and saw what seven days of 4½ feet of standing water can do to your home,” Neldia said. “Our bathtub was full of stinky, dirty river water. The countertops had been under water, leaving river water in our pans. Clothes on the bed were wet and full of mildew, our refrigerator in the garage was lying face down, and all of our appliances were ruined.”

    In 2016, Neldia and her husband occupied a local motel in room 219; a year later, after Harvey, their home away from home was room 319 of the same hotel. “It’s funny when a hotel housekeeper calls you by name and remembers the room you were in the year before,” she said.

    For John “J.D.” Debler, a Coastal Bend- TAHU member from Rockport, the experience was a little different. On Monday, August 21, John knew Harvey was probably going to affect his home as a category 1 storm. His plan was to ride out the storm at home – but then word came that the hurricane would likely be a Category 3 or 4.

    “We knew it was time to leave, and I booked a room in McAllen, Texas, at a hotel that accommodated pets,” John said. When he checked into his new accommodations, he was surprised to find the hotel was full of other storm refugees, and the Weather Channel was on 24/7. He spent most of his time on his laptop, searching for news from home and forming a new appreciation for the storm chasers who aired reports from Rockport.

    Thanks to them, John was able to see that many structures in their town had been demolished. When he was finally able to return home, his house had sustained only minor damage – missing shingles, fallen trees, and fencing and a shed that had been destroyed.

    Through the hardships, both Neldia and John followed Mr. Rogers’ mother’s advice without knowing they were doing so; they looked for the helpers, who came in the forms of community leaders and city and county government officials. And when it came time for them to help; they returned the favor.

    John became a volunteer at his local church, handing out care packages and helping clear trees that had been uprooted. Neldia and her husband volunteered at church, as well, pulling double shifts whenever they were able. Neldia remembers a gentleman who came in with nothing in his possession except a plastic bag of prescriptions.

    “Many of the families had no place to go and were dependent on the church for food, rest, and showers,” Neldia said. “Although we had lost so much, I was thankful for what I had.”

    Both Lake Jackson and Rockport saw many helpers step forward during the first days and weeks of recovery, from individuals who provided barbecue, pizzas, and sandwiches to outlying school districts that donated space so children’s studies wouldn’t be interrupted. Both Neldia and John said they were impressed by the efforts of government agencies that arrived in town promptly to begin reaching out to victims, although John is worried about lowincome residents who lost their homes.

    “There are thousands of people who have no place to live now and have either moved in with family or left the area,” John said. “I don’t think enough effort has been made to provide some type of housing for these people, and FEMA is making it very hard for some families to qualify for FEMA trailers.”

    John is planning to stay put in Rockport and hope for the best.

    “I’ve lived here for 40 years and this is the first hurricane that has hit us, and we’re praying for another 40 years of good weather,” he said.

    The Ahlquists are still in room 319 and hope to be home in December, but needed repairs to their home may necessitate their moving. Regardless, Neldia is thankful to be safe and thanks God every day for sparing her life and the lives of her loved ones.

    Neldia was told that if the cost to repair their home is more than 50 percent of the value of the house, they will never be able to purchase flood insurance. The Ahlquist can apply for $30,000 to elevate their house 5-foot or tear it down. With the total cost of elevating a home at least $150,000, Neldia wonders where is the logic in that?

    We’ve learned in 2nd Corinthians 4:8-9 that “we are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Those who met the wrath of Harvey know the meaning of this scripture all too well, as do others who have their own crosses to bear.

    If we look, we’ll continue to see helpers wherever they’re needed, starting with TAHU and NAHU. “The outpouring of support from our Texas and NAHU membership has been substantial,” Ron Buffum, President of TAHU Honorees Corporation, said.

    Under the leadership of Coastal Bend President Jennifer Pleasants and Houston President Dirk Blankenship, up to six families have been identified as members in need of assistance. So far, TAHU has received $28,150 in donations and $5,000 in gift cards to assist in the recovery efforts of our TAHU members, Ron said.

    According to Capital Area Human Services (CAHS) of Baton Rouge, when considering helping those facing adversity, we need to take initiative; don’t merely say, “If there’s anything I can do, give me a call.” Make suggestions and specific offers. “Each thoughtful gesture gives something of yourself and keeps the affected person from having to continually reach out for assistance,” CAHS says.

    Thanks to all the helpers, and remember to continue to look for them as Texas continues to recover from Harvey and its aftermath. After all, who are we to argue with Mr. Rogers’ mom?

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    Chapter Braggin'


    Kevin Opgenorth

    The Austin chapter has been hitting the CE Credits out of the park this year, just like the World Champion Houston Astros did, and we aren’t planning to slow down anytime soon!

    For the months of August, September, October and November, we’ve been able to bring in speakers who are providing two full hours of CE for our members during every luncheon. That means Austin members have been able to earn eight hours of classroom CE in just four months! It’s important to remember that although the CE requirement for Texas agents dropped to 24 hours, only 50 percent of that can be in the form of selfstudy (like webinars). Lots of agents tend to forget that and pinch hit at the last minute to attend classroom CE. That is why we believe offering many opportunities for classroom CE is important.

    In August, our scheduled speaker threw us a curveball, and we were lucky enough to have Mike Smith of The Brokerage in the bullpen! Mike rearranged his plans in order to come down and provide two hours of CE. Mike crushed it, and this was one of our best attended meetings all year.

    In September, Carla Adams, Regional Sales Director with TASC, gave a hilarious, yet extremely in-depth and technical presentation on ERISA. Carla has a wonderful sense of humor and is able to provide real-life examples that really show the value of understanding the law. An after-lunch CE focused on Benefits Continuation under FMLA and COBRA.

    In October, we pitched a lights-out meeting, literally. We met at the Alamo Drafthouse (a movie theater) and streamed Janet Trautwein’s LIVE FROM NAHU Webinar for CE on the big screen, followed by Lee Manross’ CE on the 2017 Legislative Session. Between sponsorships from Oscar Health, UHC, Frost Insurance and Kansas City Benefits, this was our most profitable luncheon of the year.

    In November, Heather Garcia from Eligibility Tracking Calculators had a brand-new CE in addition to her regular CE on “Broker Responsibilities,” and both together made that meeting a home run! Austin members were looking forward to taking some time to unwind from the slugfest of fourth quarter and give back to the community during the December Happy Hour event, where we raised gifts and funds for a local charitable cause.

    Finally, we will host fellow TAHU members from around the state at the annual Day at the Capitol event in January, complete with an AAHU sponsored happy hour the evening before the event to raise money for our state’s Political Action Committee.

    Coastal Bend

    Jennifer Pleasants
    CBAHU President

    We have made it through the fourth quarter, although many of us are looking at January with tired eyes. Especially considering all of the exciting programs we participated in at CBAHU during this last quarter.

    In October we held our annual Sales Symposium with great speakers such as Lee Manross, Eric Johnson, and Nedra Clingan. A lot of the topics were focused on updates within legislation that has happened recently, including a one-hour Live from NAHU webinar by Janet Trautwein. We held a silent auction during this event and were very pleased to earn $1,145 for a new nonprofit, New Life Refuge Ministries. Thanks to everyone, including our various sponsors, for making this Sales Symposium a success on many levels for CBAHU.

    We had an amazing turnout at our November luncheon where Alicia Haff provided one hour of CE titled “Reconciling Large Employer Obligations Under State and Federal Laws.” In December we held a member appreciation happy hour at The Post in Lamar Park. We like to take this time of year to show our members how much their commitment means to our association. It gave us all a little time to let off steam from the busyness of the fourth quarter and reflect on the great friendships this association has brought to many.

    I can’t go without mentioning what great members we have in our association. Every year we are given the profound opportunity to spend our Christmas Eve helping those in need with an event named POCA (Police Officers Christmas Angels), which was founded by one of our very own members, Bob Corrigan.

    We have several of our members joining in this event this year and the overwhelming support for the families we help is definitely something we won’t forget. From CBAHU, we want to wish everyone Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year. Cheers to 2018!


    Jay Huminsky
    DAHU President

    The Annual Lee Ripley Golf Classic was held on September 26 was a success for our association and our designated charity, Jonathan’s Place. 75 golfers played in soft cool breezes and under high cloud cover at Prestonwood Country Clubs “Cliffs” course. Over $20,000 was raised for Jonathans Place with the help from our sponsors below and contributors to our silent auction and raffle.

    Sales & IT Symposium – March 20, 2018 – SAVE THE DATE! Our second Annual Sales and IT Symposium will be at the Arlington unique vendors, three nationally recognized speakers, breakfast, lunch, and happy hour, minimum of four CE credits scheduled, and numerous prizes. This will be unique and a MUST ATTEND for those who want/need to bring their insurance practice into the new millennium.

    Membership in Texas – Last Report I saw, DAHU leads all other Texas Chapters in new members this quarter in the Region VI membership drive (mic drop here).

    Fort Worth

    Stacy Cochran
    FWAHU President

    In Fort Worth we hosted the monthly October luncheon and our “treat” was live
    streaming the “Live from NAHU” Webinar presentation by Janet Trautwein. In November, FWAHU hosted our 2nd Annual Vanguard Council “Gripe and Give” at BFF Asian Grill in Arlington. We had a great networking event sponsored by Mutual of Omaha. We enjoying a little down time during fourth quarter to “gripe” with those who understand what we’re going through and give thanks for all the blessings we do have. We collected new toys for Toys for Tots and collected a large amount of gently used coats for donation to a local shelter.

    For the month of December - we will not be holding a monthly meeting so we can allow our members to finish up their fourth quarter business. We hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas filled with family, love and laughter.


    Dirk Blankenship
    HAHU President

    The Houston area, to put it nicely, has had its hands full this fall. Hurricane Harvey has tested the mettle of all of us here, either because we had to deal directly with its wrath, or because we were in a support role for others.

    The Houston Health Insurance Day, which had been scheduled for September, was postponed to January 30, 2018 at the HSR Event Center. Come join us! You can find links to the event at We’ll host a full day of CE fun, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., followed by a fantastic meet-your-colleague happy hour.


    PAHU is off to a great start for 2017-2O18. We have set a goal to get some first timers to Day at the Capitol, Cap Conference, TAHU Convention and NAHU Convention. PAHU has moved the meeting location to the new Embassy Suites (550 S Buchanan Street) in downtown Amarillo.

    In November, Krista Palmer came to present a one hour CE on ERISA. Thanks, Krista, for coming to see us in the Panhandle.

    In December, we will be hosting our annual Legislative day. We are excited to have our new
    lobbyist, Shannon Meroney join us. She will be presenting a one hour CE on Legislative Issues. We are optimistic that Sen. Kel Seliger, Rep. Four Price and Rep. John Smithee will all be in attendance.

    We look forward to what 2018 will bring for our industry and our local, state and national associations.

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    TAHU Convention


    * Omni at the Colonnade * San Antonio, TX * May 2-4, 2018

    2018 marks our 30th year and we will be rolling out the red carpet as we celebrate this important milestone in our organization. The convention theme this year is “Power of the Past - Force of the Future” and we celebrate the strength of our membership, how we have navigated healthcare reform and continue to move forward and position our success for the next 30 years.

    We will kick off the fun on Wednesday evening with a Welcome Event/Meet and Greet. Thursday, we will begin the day with CE breakouts followed by lunch in the exhibit hall and the opening general session. Our opening Keynote Speaker, Jeremiah Desmarais, author of “SHIFT: 201 Instant-Action Proven Marketing Strategies to Sell More Insurance and Financial Products”, is a 23-time award-winning financial marketer, TED Speaker and Philanthropist who has been featured on Forbes, CNN and Worth.

    He will be followed by a happy hour in the exhibit hall with exhibitors and sponsors. We will end our first day of convention with the President’s Reception and Hollis Roberson Awards Dinner.

    On Friday, we will have a half day with two additional industry speakers, Janet Trautwein, CEO, National Association of Health Underwriters and Misty Baker, ACA Certified, Director of Compliance, BenefitMall, and more time to spend with exhibitors and sponsors.

    “An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow.”
    - Unknown

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    TAHU News

    From the desk or the TAHU Legislative Chair: Mike & Sharon Meroney

    Texas 2018… On the Ballot

    Clients, Colleagues and Friends, this past Monday (December 11, 2017) at 6pm was the filing deadline for candidates running for election or re-election in 2018. Here’s a brief summary of the landscape for statewide elected officials and Texas lawmakers (no federal or judicial races listed):

    Statewide officials

    Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, Land Commissioner Bush, Agriculture Commissioner Miller, and Railroad Commissioner Craddick have both primary and general election opponents. One significant development: former Land Comm. Jerry Patterson will challenge his successor, Land Comm. George P. Bush in the Republican primary. Attorney General Paxton and Comptroller Hegar have only general election opponents.

    Legislators not seeking re-election

    Senate (1): V. Taylor
    House (13) : Gooden, Cook, Schubert,
    Keough, Isaac, Larry Gonzales, Phillips, Laubenberg, Fallon, Giddings, Burkett, Straus, and Roberts 

    Legislators with primary opponents only

    Senate (1): Seliger
    House (18): Paddie, D. Bonnen, Reynolds, Guillen, Munoz, Oliveira, Shine, Sheffield, Lang, M. Gonzalez, T. King, Price, Johnson, Bernal, Huberty, Walle, Dutton, and Thierry

    Legislators with primary and general election opponents

    Senate (6): Hall, Schwertner, Whitmire, Huffman, Campbell, and Estes
    House (30): Flynn, Schaefer, Clardy, Raney, Metcalf, Bailes, Faircloth, Guerra, Dukes, Workman, Cosper, Stuckey, Simmons, Biedermann, K. King, Capriglione, Geren, Koop, Alonzo, R. Anderson, Villalba, Arevalo, Cortez, Uresti, Larson, Minjarez, Davis, J. Johnson, Coleman, and Swanson

    Legislators with general election opponents only

    Senate (6): Nichols, Bettencourt, Hancock,
    Burton, Watson, and Huffines
    House (56): Bell, Hefner, Wray, Kacal, Cryier, White, Wilson, G. Bonnen, Miller, Zerwas, Thompson, Morrison, Holland, Herrero, Raymond, Lozano, Kuempel, Howard, Hinojosa, Murr, Doc Anderson, Ashby, Parker, Sheehan, Leach, Sanford, Lambert, Moody, Landgraf, Craddick, Burrows, Frullo, Stephensen, Smithee, Klick, Stickland, Krause, Tinderholt,
    Zedler, Goldman, Anchia, Neave, Meyer, Button, Rinaldi, Gervin-Hawkins, Paul, Oliverson,
    Allen, Schofield, Murphy, Elkins, Dale, Bohac, Perez, and Alvarado

    Legislators with no opposition

    Senate(1): West
    House (33): VanDeaver, Dean, Phelan, Deshotel, Hunter, Longoria, Lucio, Martinez, Canales,
    Israel, Rodriguez, Burns, P. King, Springer, Franks, Darby, Nevarez, Blanco, Ortega,
    Pickett, Romero, Collier, Turner, Rose, Davis, Gutierrez, Rodriquez, Cain, Wu, Thompson,
    Hernandez, Farrar, and Vo.

    Tell Me Something Good

    Some people are born into families and some are lucky enough to be chosen. On October 18, 2017, Catalaya Jane and Aracely Rose where the chosen ones and became official grandchildren of Cheryl and Bobby Clark. Catalaya and Aracely joined sister Kenley Lane to become one happy family of Bobby and Cheryl’s son and daughterin- law. Welcome Catalaya and Aracely to your extended TAHU family.

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    Legislative Fund and TAHUPAC Contributors

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