MASI 2014 Annual Conference: Preview

In a week’s time, from September 24th-26th, the Mississippi Association of Self-Insurers (MASI) will host its 2014 annual Fall conference at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi. Louisiana Comp Blog will report from the event Thursday the 25th and Friday the 26th, so stay tuned for coverage of conference speakers and the exhibit hall.

The theme of the conference this year is, “Blues: It’s Alright” and each day features a full line up of compelling speakers and topics related to both the world of workers’ comp in Mississippi and regional and national issues affecting Louisiana.

Dan Gibson, in a September 11th message to conference participants and attendees, stated that this year’s roster of both general attendees and confirmed exhibitors is the largest in MASI’s conference history. Gibson is thrilled that the conference has grown into one of the most significant events of the year in the self-insurance community.

Regarding the varied assortment of knowledgeable speakers and the general enthusiasm surrounding the conference, Gibson explained, “Our attendance is already breaking all records from previous years. We are expecting more registrants, exhibitors and sponsors than ever before. I believe the reason for this is the great line-up of speakers we have this year.”

MASI dedicates itself explicitly to: “representing the interests of the self-insured workers’ comp and health community by promoting knowledge and providing advocacy in legislative and regulatory arenas.” Gibson believes that this year’s conference will be an ideal forum to promote those interests, saying, “We are proud to have physicians, employers, wellness advocates, and Retired Mississippi Adjutant General Harold Cross to provide sessions that will be both practical and inspiring.”

In addition to General Cross, the conference packet reveals a wide range of speakers related to the self-insured community, with particular emphasis on political reform. Gibson believes that this provides the most substantive benefit for attendees. He explained, “We tried to provide a variety of topics for everyone – both in the areas of Self-Insured Workers’ Comp and Self-Insured Health. We are really pleased that Mississippi’s Governor Phil Bryant will be speaking, along with our Speaker of the House, Philip Gunn. Both of these individuals, along with a host of legislators who will also be attending, were responsible in helping us pass Workers’ Comp Reform [SB 2576] in 2012. Many have said it was the single most comprehensive bill passed in the nation that year.”

Other anticipated speakers/sessions include: a legislative update from four Mississippi Congressional Committee Chairmen and an investigation of cognitive decline by B. Heath Gordon Ph.D, a staff neuropsychologist at the VA Medical Center in Jackson.

The Keynote Address by General Harold A. Cross, former Adjutant General of Mississippi and former Executive Director of the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission, will be on the subject of corporate philanthropy and responsibility, and how insurance professionals can contribute to the betterment of the people they serve in business.

MASI logoThe conference will also include a wealth of social and networking events. Slated for Wednesday are two lunches: the Artist’s Lunch and the Golf Lunch, plus the “Canvas and Cocktails” event in the afternoon and the welcome reception featuring Mississippi Blues guitarist and singer Chris Gill that evening.

Coco Bendernagel of Younger & Associates Inc., case management specialists in Mandeville, seems to agree with the practical and inspiring goal of the speakers, and the importance of Mississippi networking opportunities. Bendernagel has been to the MASI conference before and explains the value of the experience in terms of expanding her knowledge of comp beyond Louisiana. She explained, “I attend [the MASI conference] to gain a greater knowledge of Mississippi workers’ comp. In addition, I hope to network and have the opportunity to meet new self insurers.”

Continuing with the social activities, Thursday features an evening door prize and draw down party with a $1500 cash grand prize. In light of this year’s record attendance numbers, combined with the party, Gibson joked, “Of course, the fact that we will be giving away $5000 in total cash and prizes also tends to boost attendance!”

MASI will also be making cash donations to the Batson Children’s Hospital during the draw down party as part of the “Cards for a Cure” initiative. And to further facilitate networking among community members, all sponsored breaks and lunches on Thursday and Friday will be held in the Exhibit Hall to help increase opportunities for attendees to interact with exhibitors and make new connections.

The event is the culmination of a vast amount of planning and hard work but Gibson says that it is all worth it, especially because conferences like MASI’s encourage collaboration and information sharing within the self-insured community. He states simply, “We couldn’t be more excited about this year’s conference. We’ll see you in Biloxi!”