WDS Member Dentists
As many of you know, ballots and notice of the WDS meeting on November 21 were recently mailed out to our offices. Here are our recommendations. We certainly hope that you can attend the meeting and vote in person on November 21. Come early to register (5-5:30 pm). If not attending the meeting, please mail your proxy ballot in the envelope that was enclosed.
Our recommendation is to vote “no” for Dr. Beck and vote “yes” for Dr. Labberton. So if you are not attending the meeting and are mailing in your ballot, this means you would cross out G.Douglas Beck, DDS only. We also recommend you cross out item number 2, “Other Proper Business”. This means WDS cannot use your vote on any other business that may come forth after the election.
CDWS has tried to encourage an ongoing positive relationship with WDS leadership. We would like to suggest to them for future elections: in order to encourage more knowledge of candidates, please ask the candidates to attend dental society meetings and give a short presentation on their background, why they want to work for WDS, and open it up for a short question and answer period. This has never been done and every year, member dentists are asked to vote for someone they have never heard of before. This is not difficult to change. Finally, we certainly appreciate all the time and hard work both Dr. Beck and Dr. Labberton have put forth for both dentists and WDS.
Concerned Dentists of Washington State Meet One On One With WDS Leadership (Please read, "State of the Provider" below this report.)
Ever since the Special Membership Meeting that many of you attended in fall of 2011, the board members of CDWS have requested a one on one meeting with WDS leadership to discuss the member needs without the restrictions of a formal member meeting with an agenda controlled by WDS. We felt this would be our best opportunity to speak openly to convey the true status of their member dentist. We also felt we needed to gain a better understanding of the future direction of WDS and how it will affect the member dentist. WDS insisted on preconditions that we would not agree to, and the meeting was delayed until a mutually agreeable format and agenda was negotiated. This included no preconditions and no counsel present from either party. We agreed to good judgment and civility by all to promote a functional dialogue. In general, we all agreed to discuss how the relationship between WDS and its providers might be repaired and enhanced. WDS graciously hosted us in an evening meeting that took place at the end of May. Present were two independent directors of the WDS board, one of which is the current chair; two dental members of the board, one of which is the vice chair and one the former chair; two independent dentists, one of which is on the Member Advisory Panel; WDS’s dental director, and the three board members of CDWS. The other half of WDS’s board and the CEO were not present.
The agenda consisted of two main parts: Discussing CDWS’s member concerns since the last Membership Meeting and discussing the issues moving forward in the ever changing environment of economic challenges and the landscape of dental insurance.
The meeting tone was set to encourage collaboration. CDWS is seeking collaboration with WDS in the future concerning member dentists, which includes policy changes and member announcements. We discussed the announcement about subsidizing student board exam fees; discussed the reorganization of WDS with the OIC (Office of the Insurance Commissioner), discussed the future implications for providers and the ACA (Affordable Care Act), and requested more transparency to keep members better informed. WDS was asked to “begin treating member dentists as important stakeholders and showing more appreciation for their efforts.” CDWS noted that all of WDS’ promotion and advertising leaves out member dentists, including WDS’ Foundation efforts. CDWS noted that member confidence was at an all time low with WDS. We emphasized that we are “their boots on the ground” and our support of their future strategies would be vital to their success.
WDS discussed the reasons for the policy changes over the last 2 years. As a stand alone dental company, they are more vulnerable to competition that can discount dental plans by bundling them with medical plans. They are also concerned about the changing landscape of the ACA, but are currently offering their pediatric dental product through the exchange. Their filing with the OIC was to create a nonprofit holding company (which will be called WDS, but is a new entity), a nonprofit subsidiary that provides dental benefits (the existing WDS, which will be re-named Delta Dental of Washington), and the for-profit holdings will be held by the holding company rather than the dental benefits provider. Essentially, the for-profit holdings of WDS become sister companies to the insurance company rather than subsidiaries. We, the members, will have all of our same rights, but at the level of the holding company rather than directly at the insurance company operating subsidiary.
This reorganization, along with the subsidies going to dental students for board exams, went without announcement, which created further distrust among member dentists. WDS committed to doing a better job of communicating their policy changes while supporting their member dentists. To this end, they will start recognizing our efforts in their foundation (Smilemobile, etc.), and in the community. They want to continue to expand its communications with member dentists and include us in those communications. There was discussion around the need to make even greater use of the MAP (Member Advisory Panel) with more frequency to vet and facilitate communication and better understand the concerns of all member dentists. As part of these efforts, the MAP will reach out, as appropriate, to other member dentists as done in the past to get input and facilitate communication. We noted that what they do with the input is equally important. They also recognized our request to put on an educational program on the ACA for medical insurance purchase and the ongoing effects on dental benefits (as a member benefit).
We did not leave out our discussion on the fee reduction, our requests for balance billing, and the need for better treatment during claims processing. They acknowledged our concerns, but did not commit to any immediate action to mediate this. We also provided them with a “dashboard” of quick facts that summarized the current state of the member dentist. (This will be posted on our website). They acknowledged they would share this with the rest of the board.
In general, they appreciated our desire to provide input and be recognized as important stakeholders. We feel this is a small but important step in facilitating support from one another to navigate the challenges of the marketplace for the provider and WDS. We intend to use the MAP to its maximum capabilities, and follow up on how these recommendations are being received and implemented. The “proof will be in the pudding.”
We will need your help in providing input through this portal. First, we need you to provide your email address to those organizations (WSDA, WDS, CDWS, etc.) you wish to get current information from. You can choose which one based on your own needs. You should read your emails from these organizations, as there will be calls for action that will not be effective without participation. Last, we need your feedback about how you feel we can improve our relationship with Delta Dental of Washington. We will post an additional announcement on our website on how to submit this feedback. Remember, NO FEEDBACK, NO ACTION.
We thank WDS and its board for giving us an opportunity to communicate with them. We also appreciate the opportunity and are honored to represent you in this challenging journey.
The Board Members of Concerned Dentists of Washington State
The State of the Provider for Washington Dental Service
Provider reimbursement rates were frozen for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
15% fee reduction effective 6/2011
After fee reduction, average member dentist with 50% of practice WDS patients and 60% overhead experienced a 7.5% drop in collections, 18.75% loss in operating cash flow, and a 34% reduction in take home pay.
With a 70% overhead, the loss is 25% of operating cash flow and a 50% reduction in take home pay.
WDS executive compensation rose 32% from 2006-2010
CEO Jim Dywer’s salary rose 45% from 2006-2010
Average annual premium for a WDS plan rises 19.54% from 2005-2011
Median household income rises 4.01% from 2005-2011
US CPI rises 11.13 % from 2005-2011
Loss Ratio (claims paid divided by premiums earned) continues to fall from 88.29% to 85.93% from 2005-2011
Everyone, please note the WDS website address is www.deltadentalwa.com. On the website, there is a list of the MAP (Membership Advisory Panel). These are the dentists to call or email if you have questions related to WDS, now called, "Delta Dental of Washington". Simply go to the WDS website and click on "dentists". Then sign in with your user name and password. On the right side, click on "member advisory panel contact info" and you should then see a list of their names with their associated County dental society and email.
WDS Annual Membership Meeting 11-15-2012
The annual meeting started at 6 pm. WSDA generously hosted a hospitality room with light snacks and drinks a couple hours prior to the meeting. Approximately 190-200 dentists attended. The main order of business was election of 2 incumbent dental board members, Jack Neal and Jerry Phipps.
Both were re-elected by a very slim majority out of approximately 870 ballots cast from the WDS membership of approximately 3800 member dentists.
For those of you who had to miss the meeting, many questions were put forth from the membership directly to WDS board members, including the Provider Compensation Committee who determines your re-imbursements.
During the meeting, as at the Special Meeting one year ago, we asked again for a chance to arrange a small meeting between the WDS board, CEO Jim Dwyer and the board for CDWS with a select small group of interested dentists to possibly join us. Although we did not get the most encouraging response, we intend to pursue this and we are optimistic about somehow getting such a meeting arranged to continue discussion pertaining to some sharp divisions between member dentists and WDS. Stay tuned, and thank you to everyone who attended the meeting.
Concerned Dentists of Washington State
WDS PROXY AND ANNUAL MEETING 11-15-2012
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR WDS MEMBER DENTISTS
Recently you received mailings from WDS and from two WDS dentist board members running for re-election to the board. IF YOU ARE ATTENDING the Annual meeting on November 15, you do not need to respond in any way; keep the WDS proxy form for reference.
IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO ATTEND the meeting, CDWS suggests following these recommendations:
First of all, you have until November 14 to mail and have the proxy received by the addressee if you are not going to this meeting.
If mailing in the proxy (not attending the meeting), this is how we suggest voting:
1. Cross off in the first sentence, "G. Douglas Beck, DDS, Board Treasurer, or, in his absence or inability to act or at his request, David W. Branch, DDS, Board Chair" and add the name, Kal Klass DDS. That gives someone who represents you your vote at the meeting instead of a WDS board member. Sign and date that same side.
If adding the name Kal Klass, please mail your proxy to:
KAL KLASS DDS
1001 Broadway #314
Seattle, Wa 98122
On the flip side of the proxy form:
2. Election of Member Directors: cross out both names, Jack E. Neal, DDS, MS and Gerald S. Phipps, DMD, MS for number 1. Leave number 2 unchanged: "Other Proper Business". This will take Dr. Neal and Dr. Phipps off the board if the majority of us vote that way and force WDS to pick 2 new board members. Of course, everyone is free to vote as they wish. And if you prefer to vote for either candidate, please do so. WDS can still turn around and fill these vacancies with the same dentists or with dentists of their choosing without our input. However, this would illustrate the absurdity of “member” directors and the lack of member choice. We hope they take this into consideration.
Our feeling is that the current nominees have not been an independent voice that represents its member dentists. With new, alternative nominees, we may have an opportunity for future collaboration. We would like board members who go out into the dental community and help establish a two way street of communication, which so far has been minimal, at best.
The most important thing to do, of course, is to try and attend the Annual Meeting on November 15, 2012.
NEW!! Mr. Dwyer is not fit to be CEO of WDS:
Make your voice heard. In no uncertain terms, let the board of WDS know that member dentists expect CEO James Dwyer to be relieved of his position. Click the link below to view the letter. Download this document. Sign it (and print your name legibly) then send it (email, fax, postal mail) back to CDWS. Our contact information is on the letter. Send it to every WDS member dentist you know and ask them to follow through as well.
WDS promised to have a face to face meeting with us. After stalling for months, they finally said they would only sit face to face if we agreed to a complete gag order, refraining from any disparaging commentary about WDS. Of course we refused. Here is an open letter to WDS which outlines the topics we wanted to discuss in person.
Here is the "Plain English" breakdown of the new WDS bylaws:
CDWS Statement on the
Special Meeting with WDS:
CDWS Response to Special Meeting (PDF)
New! The Truth About Dental Insurance:
Straight Teeth Talk (PDF)
Print copies for your patients!