AHC Forum to Highlight Health Plan, Marketing Initiative, Women Leaders, Obamacare

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The American Horse Council's theme for this year's National Issues Forum is "A Healthy Horse, A Healthy Industry." The topics to be presented revolve around that theme of a healthy horse, a healthy industry and a healthy community.

This year's National Issues Forum will be held on Tuesday, June 18, in Washington, D.C., during the AHC's annual convention, which will run from June 16 to 19 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The convention will also include the AHC's Congressional Reception, the annual Congressional Ride-In, meetings of all AHC committees, the meeting of the Unwanted Horse Coalition and the AHC's Breed Roundtable, which brings together leaders of the horse industry to discuss common issues of importance.

This year's Issues Forum will focus on the progress of the National Equine Health Plan. The plan will spell-out the issues surrounding the prevention and control of diseases and the responsibilities and roles of the federal and state authorities and the industry to keep our horses healthy and our industry viable in the face of disease outbreaks, which seem to be occurring more frequently. Fundamental to such a plan is an Equine Disease Communication Center to coordinate and disseminate accurate information about equine diseases. The Issues Forum will be an opportunity for horse people to hear about the plans and provide feedback.

Attendees will also receive an update on the status of the AHC's Marketing Consortium to reinvigorate the horse industry, which was discussed at last year's Forum. The consortium involves organizations and industry service providers. Substantial progress on messages, themes, target audiences, social media, and test-events has been made.

The Forum will feature a panel on the future of the industry featuring five women who are leading national organizations this year. The AHC felt it would be interesting to get their perspective on future challenges facing the industry and potential solutions. Speakers include Johne Dobbs, President of the American Quarter Horse Association; Ann Dwyer, DVM, President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners; Robin Richards, President of the National Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association; Cynthia Richardson, President of the Arabian Horse Association; and Chrystine Tauber, President of the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed in March, 2010, is the most sweeping social legislation enacted since Medicare in 1965. It is expected to transform U.S. healthcare delivery and will affect members of the horse industry just like others. Obamacare is an issue that the industry must be preparing for on an ongoing basis. Indeed some should have already taken steps to be ready. The AHC hopes that the presentation on Obamacare will help employers in the horse community understand their obligations under the new law.

Vanda McMurtry, an attorney with Davis & Harman in Washington, D.C., will explain what those in the industry should be doing now and what they should be prepared to do in the future under the new requirements. Mr. McMurtry has worked in the insurance industry and represented insurance companies for many years. He also has Washington experience.

The AHC Breed Roundtable will be held on Monday, June 17. This event was reinstated several years ago and has proven to be very popular. It allows leaders of horse organizations to visit with each other and discuss issues of common concern.

The annual Congressional Ride-In will take place on Wednesday, June 19. The Ride-In allows members of the horse community to meet with their elected representatives and federal officials to discuss important issues affecting them. All members of the horse community are encouraged to participate, even if they don't attend the AHC convention. The AHC will conduct a free briefing for Ride-In participants. Anyone wishing to participate in the Ride-In should contact AHC Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass at bpendergrass@horsecouncil.org or 202-296-4031.

More information on these Forums and the entire AHC annual meeting, including registration and hotel information, can be found on the AHC's website, http://horsecouncil.org/events.php or by contacting the AHC.