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COBA brings the heat with 2013 FIRE Symposium
By Christy Mendoza, Intern/Writer
Posted: 04/17/2013
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Ruben Delgado is just about to graduate with an accounting degree in May 2013 from The University of Texas Pan American. This summer, he plans to head north, for a highly coveted internship with the Federal Reserve at the Bank of Dallas and anticipates gathering the hands-on experience he needs before returning to the Rio Grande Valley to acquire his Masters in Accounting at UT Pan American.


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Panelists at 2013 FIRE Symposium, hosted by the UTPA College of Business Administration, discuss the Affordable Care Act and its impact on small Businesses.

Delgado attributes his success in part to the many conferences, information sessions, and competitive tools UTPA has provided him to land his dream internship. One of the most recent conferences he attended was the 2013 Finance Insurance Real Estate (FIRE) Symposium.

“This FIRE Symposium is particularly exciting,” said Delgado, “It offers us the opportunity to learn about current events that affect our economy -- such as the enigmatic health care reforms -- from highly regarded speakers who explain very complicated issues in a very meaningful and concise manner.”

Kenneth Steve Lovell, lecturer of economics and finance at UTPA and director of the FIRE symposium, in partnership with the UTPA College of Business Administration, has put forward an unprecedented measure in Valley history in bringing FIRE to UTPA and the local business community.

“This conference brings together top experts from the insurance industry to inform and educate small groups and community members the particulars on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA),” said Lovell, “The speakers we brought to the conference are some of the leaders in the industry and often collaborate with the Federal and State government on a constant basis.”

Many small business owners and other community members, along with UTPA students, faculty and staff, crowded into the Community Engagement and Student Success building where they learned more about the new regulations of PPACA that was passed by Congress and then signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court rendered a final decision to uphold the health care law.

Misty Baker, director of health insurance information, from the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, located in Austin joined other distinguished panelists to provide an outlook of health care insurance and the PPACA. Panelists were also available throughout the entire conference for one-on-one discussions and questions.

“This is a great conference for the RGV community. The Valley is a unique demographic affected by PPACA,” Baker said. “Many employees here will benefit from the Texas CHIP and Medicaid expansion and many small groups will also be impacted, so knowledge is definitely key.”

Other speakers, such as Dr. Lawrence Gelman, president of the McAllen Anesthesia Consultants, gave a passionate presentation from the health care provider’s perspective, while Dr. Esteban Lopez, president of Texas Marketing Strategy from Blue Cross Blue Shield presented a business and legislative outlook on the PPACA during a panel moderated by UTPA’s Dean of the College of Health Sciences & Human Services, Dr. John Ronnau.

“These events are quite costly, and without the generous support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas and many other local sponsors, these conferences may not have been possible,” Lovell said.

UTPA’s College of Business Administration hopes to have a follow-up symposium.

“This topic is incredibly fluid,” Lovell said. “We hope to have another conference in September or October 2013 to talk about the updates. It is so important for our community to become equipped with strategies and ways to help understand these complex issues. Overall, we look forward to working with the community in meaningful ways.”

If you have any questions regarding the FIRE Symposium and its sponsors, visit UTPA’s College of Business Administration's website or call (956) 665-3311 or email cobainfo@utpa.edu.