To borrow a baseball analogy from Len Blonder, the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) "hit a home run" (or rather a series of home runs) during its 2009 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. April 28-May 1.
Blonder's comments to NSSTA attendees about "federal and state issues", which occurred near the end of an exceptional NSSTA program, served as a belated key note address for the entire NSSTA program.
Blonder was one of three NSSTA past-Presidents, along with Henry Strong and Chris Diamantis, whom NSSTA, and new NSSTA President Daniel Durbin, honored during its meeting.
Blonder, a two-time NSSTA President who continues to co-chair NSSTA's Legislation and Regulation Committee, spoke passionately about baseball and structured settlements. Blonder traced his involvement in structured settlements to the late 1970s when he helped organize a pre-NSSTA political coalition which formulated, and eventually helped to enact, the original structured settlement tax legislation in 1982.
With support from Blonder and its Legislation and Regulation Committee, NSSTA announced and introduced a new "D.C. two-step" political strategy: move one-step backward before moving two or more steps forward.
NSSTA's backward step:
- Re-focus on "protecting, preserving and promoting" structured settlement laws already enacted in the United States Internal Revenue Code and 47 state structured settlement protection statutes;
- Consolidate and transition NSSTA's administrative, financial and political strengths.
NSSTA's forward steps:
- Continue enhanced education about Medicaid and Medicare as cornerstones for growing the structured settlement market;
- Continue to define NSSTA's Internet strategy and online voice.
NSSTA's strengths were displayed during the 2009 Annual Meeting.
- Joseph Ricci, NSSTA's new Executive Director, summarized improvements in NSSTA governance.
- NSSTA announced:
- New NSSTA voting bylaws;
- Election of new Directors Betty Gregware and Daniel Finn; plus
- A new NSSTA Channel on YouTube.
- NSSTA's program featured presentations from:
- NSSTA lobbyist Eric Vaughn;
- NSSTA marketing consultant Peter Arnold; and
- NSSTA General Counsel Hogan & Hartson partner Craig Ulman.
- In addition to his "Washington Report" Vaughn organized an impressive delegation of congressional speakers for NSSTA:
- Senator Richard Durbin (D) from Illinois;
- Senator Charles Grassley (R) from Iowa;
- Congressman Charles Rangle (D) from New York;
- Congressman James Langevin (D) from Rhode Island;
- Congressman Joseph Crowley (D) from New York;
- Congressman Dave Camp (R) from Michigan;
- Congressman Brian Higgins (D) from New York;
- Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D) from Pennsylvania;
- Congressman Joseph Courtney (D) from Connecticut;
- Plus the Chiefs of Staff for four congressmen.
Among the political speakers, Senator Durbin, uncle of NSSTA President Daniel Durbin, was the most focused on structured settlement issues. Senator Durbin promised to:
- Support IRC sections 104(a)(2) and 130;
- Address structured settlement secondary market advertising as part of his proposed Financial Product Safety Commission.
Ricci, Vaughn and NSSTAPAC Chairman Brad Cantwell complemented NSSTA congressional presentations with a NSSTAPAC status report.
In addition to the congressional speakers, NSSTA's educational program featured exceptional structured settlement and settlement planning presentations:
- Industry Update and Looking Forward - Transitioning NSSTA Presidents Chris Diamantis and Dan Durbin offered their strategic analyses;
- "All Things Considered" - NSSTA's legal committee has upgraded the quality and scope of its educational contributions:
- Medicare and Medicaid - NSSTA's government benefits committee sponsored two panel discussions.
- Roy Franco, Mark Popolizio, David Korch and Rafael Gonzalez spoke about Medicare and structured settlements;
- John McCulloch, Timothy O'Driscoll and Dennis Mc Andrews spoke about Medicaid and structured settlements.
- 35W Bridge Collapse - Jerry Lothrop summarized structured settlement results and lessons learned from the Minnesota August 1, 2007 bridge collapse.
- Financial Strength Ratings - William Pargeans of A.M. Best emphasized strong fixed annuity sales trends despite low interest rates;
- Ethics - Mike Jones continued a revitalized NSSTA priority:
- Asking the NSSTA audience: "why be ethical?" and
- Challenging the NSSTA audience to identify and support ethical leaders within the structured settlement industry.
Congratulations to NSSTA for an outstanding 2009 annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Future S2KM blog posts will offer commentary.
For S2KM reports about prior NSSTA meetings, see S2KM's structured settlement wiki.