BROOKFIELD, WIS. – More than 80 new members of Congress were sworn in on January 3, making 2013 an important year for the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Advocacy Summit. This year, NFDA members will meet with new members of Congress – as well as incumbents – and help them understand issues facing funeral consumers and the profession. The 2013 Advocacy Summit will take place March 5-7 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The heart of the NFDA Advocacy Summit has always been the meetings that funeral directors attend with their elected representatives. This year, attendees will focus on two key issues impacting the funeral service profession:
· Preserve the SSI and Medicaid Exclusion for Irrevocable Funeral and Burial Trusts
Under current regulations, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program provides that funds set aside in an irrevocable funeral or burial trust are not treated as resources when determining an applicant’s eligibility for SSI. Medicaid uses SSI’s definition of resources and exclusions from resources for determining eligibility.
These exclusions are good social and public policy, especially for low-income individuals. Without these exclusions, many SSI and Medicaid recipients would die without adequate funds for a dignified funeral and burial. Without these exclusions, state and local governments would be forced to allocate public monies to fund this expense. This is problematic because many state and local governments are eliminating or severely reducing indigent funeral and burial funds due to current economic conditions. Advocacy Summit attendees will urge Congress to preserve these exclusions during upcoming budget discussions.
· Require the Federal Government to Adopt a Comprehensive Mass-fatality Management Plan
As a result of recent pandemics and natural and man-made disasters, the concept of mass-fatality management has changed, exposing the need for a comprehensive federal plan that incorporates and coordinates all resources of federal, state, tribal and local governments, as well as those of the private sector. This will ensure the coordinated and orderly recovery, identification, processing, notification and conduct of funeral services and final dispositions for those who died during a natural or man-made mass-fatality event.
Advocacy Summit attendees will urge Congress to enact legislation requiring the federal government to develop and implement a national mass-fatality management plan that includes all appropriate federal, state, local and tribal government agencies and resources, as well as those in the private sector.
In addition to lobbying opportunities with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, NFDA has invited several guest speakers.
· Members of the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association will share the story of how funeral professionals united to support victims’ families and the community in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
· Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. The Committee has jurisdiction over all tax issues as well as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security issues. Jenkins will speak about the Committee’s efforts to reform taxes and the Medicaid and SSI programs.
· Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) is a newly-elected member of Congress whose family owns funeral homes in Ohio and Kentucky. Radel will speak about what it's like to be sworn in as a new member of Congress and immediately grapple with critical issues, such as government spending, funding the federal government and the debt ceiling.
· Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL) is an NFDA member and the sole funeral director in Congress. He will discuss issues impacting funeral service and what the House of Representatives will be working on in 2013.
· Sen. Angus King (I-ME) is the former governor of Maine and one of two Independent members of Congress. King will talk about the ways he believes the Senate will address the major issues impacting the economy, foreign policy and small business; he’ll also discuss how the Senate will work with the House on these issues.
· Dr. Ed Kilbane is a lawyer and medical doctor (forensic pathologist) and is in charge of mass-fatality management policy and operations at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He will discuss HHS’ and the federal government’s efforts to fashion a comprehensive federal mass-fatality management plan.
The registration fee for the 2013 Advocacy Summit is $95 for members of NFDA. The registration fee for nonmembers is $160. A spouse/guest registration is available for $45. For more event information about the Advocacy Summit or to register, visit www.nfda.org/advocacysummit or call 800-228-6332.
Attendees who plan to stay at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel must make their reservations by February 5 to lock in the special Advocacy Summit rate of $259 per night, plus tax. Hotel reservations can be made by visiting www.nfda.org/advocacysummit and clicking on the “Hotel/Travel” link or by calling the hotel at 888-236-2427 and mentioning the “NFDA Advocacy Summit.”