Carnival Corp. & Plc's Glory cruise ship stands docked prior to departure at the Port of Miami in Miami, Florida, U.S. on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Carnival Glory was built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri SpA. Photographer: Christina Mendenhall/Bloomberg The Carnival Glory (Photo: Christina Mendenhall/Bloomberg)

The Health Agents for America (HAFA) have come up with a new strategy for mobilizing health insurance agents against threads to their livelihood: get everyone on a big ship.

HAFA today concluded a five-day agent summit held aboard the Carnival Glory cruise ship, which moved from the Port of New Orleans to Cozumel and back.

(Related: Health Agents for America Heads to Las Vegas)

The 7-year-old Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based group represents agents who are skeptical of federal government involvement in the individual and small-group health insurance markets but are highly dependent on stability in government health insurance rules and programs to be able to serve their customers.

The administration of President Donald Trump has given HAFA members and other health insurance agents more respect.

Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — the federal agency in charge of Affordable Care Act programs, and HealthCare.gov — have met several times with HAFA representatives, and they are organizing an Agent and Broker Summit aimed at producers in the ACA market.

The summit, which is set to take place July 1, at CMS headquarters in Baltimore, “will provide an in-depth discussion on the Administration’s major health care priorities,” CMS said in an email about the summit sent out Friday. “We’ll cover topics of interest to agents and brokers and offer opportunities for agents and brokers to provide feedback and ask questions of CMS leadership and experts in advance of the plan year 2020 Open Enrollment period.”

But the Trump administration has also contributed to instability in the health insurance market, by supporting efforts by officials in Texas and some other states to have the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals declare nullify all of the ACA, and by making mid-year changes in major ACA subsidy programs, such as the cost-sharing reduction subsidy program. That program helps low-income ACA public exchange plan users pay their deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance amounts.

HAFA has responded to the uncertainty by developing an active political action committee, HAFA-PAC.

The summit featured regulatory updates by Angie Surra of NavigateHCR and Michael J. Keegan, a Washington-area political consultant, along with a video message from Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

B. Ronnell Nolan, HAFA’s president, said in a letter to attendees that agents need to join together.

“We refuse to give up, shut up, or move out of the way,” Nolan said in the letter. “Our fight is far from over and your support is important to our survival and the survival of our industry.”

— Read 3 Startling HAFA Sessionson ThinkAdvisor.

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