For several months prior to the 2015 NAME Conference, there was talk in the US Congress about a potential government shutdown, which would have had a major impact on the Conference program, which was filled with speakers from the federal government. The planning committee developed a back-up plan and was ready to implement it, if needed. However, the planning committee did not have a contingency plan for hurricane Joaquin, which threatened the entire Eastern Seaboard for a week before the Conference began.
There were two big sighs of relief after it was clear there would be no federal government shutdown, and hurricane Joaquin was headed out into the Atlantic Ocean! Hurricane-free weather greeted a record-shattering 330 attendees as they arrived in Baltimore, Maryland for the 13th Annual NAME Conference, October 4-7, 2015. The Conference was held at the Baltimore Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, which provided a spectacular setting in view of the Inner Harbor, while being walker-friendly and home to a wide variety of shopping and dining options for attendees.
Baltimore was chosen purposefully to make it easy for NAME's federal partners from the US Department of Education’s Offices of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to attend. Their unprecedented high level of participation resulted in six general sessions, all with content that was chosen based on NAME members’ input.
Fourteen organizations were sponsors of the 2015 NAME Conference, providing substantial financial support that kept attendee registration costs lower. We acknowledge and are very grateful to the following sponsors:
Public Consulting Group, Inc.
Schools Integrated Medical Solutions
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Healthmaster Holdings, LLC
Sivic Solutions Group
Healthcare Billing Services
Compliance Services Association
Saturday and Sunday, October 3-4, 2015 With Baltimore’s close proximity to Washington, DC, some attendees arrived early and took the train or drove to various destinations in the area on Saturday and/or Sunday. Some even planned ahead, worked with their Congressperson, and scheduled White House tours! There was another bonus for the 2015 Conference attendees: in another wing of the NAME hotel, during the same days as the NAME Conference, one of NAME’s national partners, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) was holding their annual conference! This allowed some interaction between NAME members and their bosses, colleagues and friends. Taking advantage of the opportunity, NAME Executive Director John Hill and Chair of the Governmental Affairs and Public Relations Committee, Amy Edwards presented a session to the NASDSE Conference attendees.
The NAME 2015 Conference program was full of changes this year. To keep costs down, it was designed with one less day than many of the previous Conferences; it had no traditional breakout or nugget sessions; and it began on a Sunday evening, versus Tuesday afternoon. There was a large number of people who had arrived in time to attend the first session of the week, The NAME Academy: Introduction to School Based Medicaid.
Monday, October 5, 2015 Activities commenced at 7am Monday with the 3rd Annual Anysia Drumheller Memorial Scholarship 5K Run/1 Mile Walk fundraiser. Fifty-four people participated in the event, running along the Inner Harbor on a chilly morning. Alexandria Fogarty of the Colorado School Medicaid Consortium took the women's title and Brian Mooney placed first for the men in the 5K event. Congratulations to all who participated and a big thank you to Lauren Holahan of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for being the Race Director again!
After NAME President Rena Steyaert (MT), Conference Chair Mark Smith (OH) and NAME Executive Director John Hill (KY) welcomed all participants, special federal agency welcomes were delivered by Timothy Hill, Deputy Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); and Mary Louise Dirrigl, Director of the Office of Policy and Planning in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. Attendees then heard an informative presentation related to the recently issued guidance from CMS on Free-Care and Third Party Liability. This session was presented by Jean Close from the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. During Monday's luncheon, Dan Thomas represented the Charity Newsies informed attendees about their programs in Ohio that will benefit from the fundraisers held during the conference. Through NAME’s silent auction, a raffle for an amazing Montana a fly fishing trip, and attendees' generous contributions, NAME donated $4,000 to the organization. Thank you to all who contributed so generously. A Related Service Practitioner Panel Discussion featuring representatives from the American Physical Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American-Speech-Language Hearing Association, Center for School Mental Health, National Association of School Nurses and the National Association of State School Nurse Consultants was well-received Tuesday afternoon. The last session of the day, Lessons Learned from Recent OIG Audits, was presented by John Beacham, an Audit Manager from the Office of the Inspector General, US Department of Health and Human Services filling in for John Hagg who was unable to attend. This very informative presentation included information on the overall audit process, tips for being prepared for audits and recent school-based audit findings. NAME’s annual Welcome Reception, featuring hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a great atmosphere for early networking capped the first full day of the Conference.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 Tuesday morning began with three concurrent facilitated discussions led by various members of NAME’s leadership team. Attendees chose from these topics: Rolling Out ICD 10;How to Improve Time Study and Documentation Compliance; and Free Care, Section 504 Plans, Student Health Plans and You. Next, Jean Close and Cynthia Ruff from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Services discussed EPSDT and Medicaid Benefits: Services to Address the Needs of Children with Disabilities. This session focused on recently issued (July 2014) CMS guidance on services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. The next session featured five of NAME's federal straegic partners from the School-Based Health Alliance, Healthy Schools Campaign, American Association of School Administrators, the Council of Administrators of Special Education and the National Association of Medicaid Directors, along with NAME Executive Director, John Hill. Each provided their federal updates in the popular "fireside chat" format. The experts shared their knowledge and insight into what has been happening in Washington, D.C., on the 'free care' issue, legislation and factors affecting Medicaid and Education. Tuesday afternoon concluded with a presentation by representatives from the State of Ohio providing an in-depth discussion on their Medicaid in Schools Program.
The organized social event, Urban Pirates, was held on a balmy Tuesday evening. Attendees boarded a pirate ship for an interactive adventure sailing, where they learned to talk, dance, and play games like a pirate, blast enemies with water cannons and navigate treacherous waters to discover vast treasures.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 The NAME Regional Town Hall meetings kicked off Wednesday morning, providing a final opportunity for members to gather in their respective regions and reflect on the week and discuss what issues NAME should focus on in the coming year. This session was followed by Judith Cash, Director of Eligibility and Enrollment in the Children and Adults Health Programs within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. She filled in for Donna Cohen-Ross and discussed the national campaign to identify and enroll as many children as possible with health coverage, “Connecting Kids to Coverage”. The new NAME President Tracy Brunner (IN) took office, as did new NAME President-Elect, Shannon Huska (CO) and other elected representatives to the NAME Board of Directors. Bozeman, Montana was announced as the site of the 2016 NAME Annual Conference. The NAME Leadership Team participated in meetings through the weekend, planning long range organizational goals for NAME.
Thank You! The 2015 NAME Conference Committee would like to thank all those who attended this year’s conference, and is deeply grateful to all those who volunteered their time to plan and work the event. The 2016 Conference Committee will study the results of all conference evaluations to prepare for next year. It is never too early to begin the process of securing approval for travel to the 2016 NAME Conference. We think it will be worth your efforts!