We recommend that members attend the upcoming annual DDW meeting and to follow the lead of the WSDA.  An updated email recommends a unanimous "no" vote.  This means that no candidates will be elected if a quorum votes and if a majority votes "no".

Keep in mind that in years past, there was no selection of "no " on the ballot.  However a selection of "abstain" will accomplish the same thing.

The more proxies, the better.  It won't be a wasted day, no matter what.  The idea of attending with our votes and proxies, and then voting "no" or "abstain" will send a strong message to DDW. 

CDWS appreciates the sincere efforts that CEO Mark Mitchke has made to discuss with any and many dentists across the state what changes we value at Delta.  It would be a most worthwhile meeting to just cancel the election this time around, but conduct the rest of the meeting with discussions he already planned and open it up for questions to have our first ever true dialogue we have never experienced at one of these meetings.   We think this could happen; it is the decision for Mr. Mitchke and the DDW board to make.


See what lawsuits are in the works for contesting Delta's monopsony powers; click on this link.


Concerned Dentists of Washington State Board Meets with DDW CEO and Vice President of Network Stradegy and Project Management.

CDWS board members including myself, Chris Pickel, and Bill Hooe had a good meeting with Mark Mitchke, DDW new CEO and Cindy Snyder, Vice President of Network Strategy and Project Management.

The meeting was cordial and productive.   Mr. Mitchke has been meeting with other dentists around the state to discuss feedback from member dentists, most of whom are very disappointed with the down turn in the relationship over the last decade.  We see the current time as a good chance to try and turn that relationship around and openly discussed many of the major problems for dentists with Mr. Mitchke.  Some of those included: the current veto by Delta’s board of some major amendments, adherence to their bylaws, any changes he may consider proposing, and of course the “elephant in the room”, the fee decrease in 2011 which has continued to deteriorate the practice of dentistry in Washington State as we know it. 

We feel that Mark has a clear understanding of our problems and we hope to become partners again with DDW.   Mark is a good listener and seems open to considering some options.   We all know that some of the suggestions by DDW to help lower our overhead with deals on supplies did nothing to affect the continued down turn in our practices over the recent last few years.   The 15% decrease in fee reimbursements has resulted in a 30-35% reduction in overall collections for many dentists and remains unchanged.  

But let’s give DDW a chance and see if the new CEO can make a difference to affect changes. He deserves that chance.

Kal Klass, CDWS Board Member


Delta Special Meeting Dat​e Announced


Thursday, November 15 at 3 PM
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Seattle Airport
18740 International Blvd, Seattle, WA 98188

Here are three things you should know about submitting a proxy ballot:


1. Do not mail your proxy ballot back to WDS/Delta directly!


We are gathering additional information about the proxy process and will share more information when it is available.


2. It is vitally important that you do everything in your power to attend the special meeting in person!


We are fighting for nothing less than the health of your patients and the future of your practice.


3. We recommend that you vote in SUPPORT of the bylaw amendments.


This round of bylaw amendments would: 


  • Allow for open nominations for members to run for the board;
  • Impose term limits on board service for member dentists at Delta;
  • Make the Delta CEO an ex-officio rather than full member of the board; and
  • Eliminate board veto powers over member-approved bylaw amendments.


Finally, if you cannot attend the meeting in person, CDWS recommends that you give your ballot to a member attending the meeting who may vote on your behalf.  This is called a proxy vote.  Simply cross off where it says, “hereby appoints Dr. Gerald S. Phipps, DMD, MS, Board Chair, or, in his absence or inability to act or at his request, Dr. Eve Rutherford, DDS, Board Director.”


Then on the next line, below which reads, “Name of proxy other than Dr. Phipps or Dr. Rutherford”, write the name of who is voting for you at the meeting.


Don’t forget to sign and date below on the ballet where it says, “member signature” and “date”.


This “proxy vote” was accepted as an amended bylaw during the first Special Meeting in 2011 and DDW must accept all proxy votes.   Hope to see everyone there !!


Concerned Dentists of Washington State, in cooperation with the Washington State Dental Association and Jet City Study Club, is pleased to offer a Continuing Education experience with Dr. Tim Hess, prior to the Special Meeting with Delta Dental on Thursday, November 15th at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel, Seattle Airport. Dr. Hess’s topic will be "Facial Esthetics: Looking beyond Enamel & Gingiva” Timing is being worked out; with the Delta meeting scheduled for 3:00, Dr. Hess will likely start around 1:00. One unit of PACE CE credit will be given to attendees. STAY TUNED FOR FURTHER DETAILS.



Delta Dental has ventured into a new business model:

The state of Washington is out of the business of running dental Medicaid as of January 1, 2019. The State Health Care Authority will no longer be administering it. They will still be paying for dental Medicaid, but chose to put a bid out to the private insurance market for the contract to administer managed care. A driving force behind this decision was the influence of lobbyists who encouraged the legislature to look at managed care by convincing them they could find savings from things like ER diversions, which could lower the overall cost the state has to pay. This is assuming that with more enrollment and utilization in Medicaid, there would be more timely (and preventive) care of the population that has been using ER services for care. This is also assuming that there will be more enrollment (see below), and a quantum shift in how that population values and/or seeks care. It seems like a pretty distant pitch, but it worked. That being said, the state of Washington was likely one of the last states that ran Medicaid from a state agency. 

One successful bidder was Dentegra, which is a partnership between Delta Dental of WA (DDWA), Delta Dental of CA (DDCA), and Arcora, DDWA’s foundation. The other two were MCNA Dental, and Amerigroup (partnered with DentaQuest).

With Delta being one of the players, we obviously had questions and concerns about how this will influence those of us that participate in Medicaid and how it may also influence the private insurance market.  First, it is important to understand how the arrangement works between the state and the successful bidders.

All three carriers will receive funding from the state. They will use state funds to pay for the care and a portion of those funds will pay for their administration. It is unknown what that administration portion will be, (this is determined in the bidding process) but it could be as high as 15%. This is similar to the loss ratio calculated for traditional insurance plans. This is the percentage of premium dollars that goes to the company with the remainder allocated for patient care. Delta used to boast it returned 94% of the patient’s premium back to its network providers, but that has eroded to the 80’s despite our efforts to lobby for more patient care dollars and less administrative dollars being rewarded to Delta executives. We anticipate this trend to continue. Current Medicaid patients will be divided between the three companies, but the patients will have the right to choose. This will likely be determined by the size of the networks of each company and where the providers are located geographically. You can assume that Delta will have the advantage here, as they already dominate the marketplace and have most of the providers in the state already in their current agreements.

2 million Washingtonians have Medicaid.

Delta has reached out to its providers to sign up for the Medicaid Network. It is a binding agreement. The reimbursement levels for care are 25- 35% of most member’s current filed fees with Delta, with many restrictions on care. It is no secret that Washington state’s Medicaid reimbursement rates are abysmal and among the lowest in the nation. Regardless of who administers the benefit and how much money they claim they can save the state, increased funding is still needed to meet the need of low-income patients in our state. So it seems they will have the same problem finding providers to provide care as they did before when the state ran the program. You can’t take care of patients with a 75% fee reduction. This does not seem like an improvement. Who is benefitting? 

Delta is making some creative business pitches to its current providers. The first one is how they (Arcora) will be able to advocate for higher Medicaid reimbursement rates through its support of the ABCD (Access to Baby and Child Dentistry) program, which was started and tirelessly supported by Washington state dentists. Dentists have been providing this care despite meager reimbursement rates. Arcora has been well funded by the surplus funds that flowed to the company as it changed its loss ratio by reducing provider reimbursements and keeping more of the patient premium dollar for their use. We applaud that they have given money to this very successful program, but stating that it can have an influence in raising rates is disingenuous. They go on further to state: “Joining the Delta Dental Medicaid network will allow Arcora Foundation to have a stronger influence in Medicaid management in our state.” Giving Delta more influence in state politics has never been a win for the providers or the patients they serve.

The next pitch is the type that defines the term “smoke and mirrors”. They state: “For many people, Apple Health (Medicaid) is a temporary benefit as they work their way into higher paying jobs, where they’ll obtain private insurance. And once they do, these patients are likely to remain with your practice.” There are so many assumptions in that statement that even having it in writing would be a reach.

The scariest proposal does not seem too far out of reach: Is there a possibility that there will be a future requirement to participate in Delta’s Medicaid program to remain a member of its PPO/Premier programs? What happens if they don’t get the provider network they seek for Medicaid?

The Washington State Dental Association has claimed they “will zealously guard against any requirement like this. So far, there is none”. So far.   

We already have our opinions about how Delta will “manage care” in this system. With their market share growing and dominating the landscape, they will be able to continue to wield their influence. As they take over state supported agencies, they also become highly influential in state politics. Patient care will always take a back seat to corporate profits in the world of Delta. We have continued to be vigilant in our quest to educate our legislators and the public that the best relationship is the doctor patient relationship.




Recent article from the Seattle Times, 11-5-17

You and your dentist may have a bone to pick with Delta Dental

As the head of Delta Dental, CEO Jim Dwyer’s salary has more than doubled to $2.75 million. The board of directors are paid more than $100,000 for part-time service. Where’s the customer focus?

By Craig E. Neal

Special to The Times

Something important happened for oral health in Washington. Dentists across the state closed their offices for a day in September and met to vote on bylaw amendments to make Delta Dental of Washington, the state’s largest dental benefits carrier, more patient-focused, transparent and responsive to member dentists.

In this day of razor-thin margins and contested elections, the results weren’t even close: More than 91 percent of the votes cast supported the changes.

Despite this overwhelming majority, Delta has chosen to act as if it never happened. If Delta has its way, almost none of the member-voted changes will matter. Patients will continue to see premiums rise with few options to seek coverage elsewhere. Their dentists’ clinical decisions will continue to be overruled by insurance clerks, resulting in services delayed and claims denied.

That is because Delta’s board of directors recently vetoed virtually all the changes, effectively ignoring the clear direction provided by Delta members who voted to support the amendments.

These member dentists understand exactly how these changes will benefit their patients and how harmful the board’s veto is.

One vetoed amendment would have required Delta to establish an independent review board, administered by the Insurance Commissioner’s Office, to deal with disputed claims. That is the way medical insurance works: Disputed claims can be submitted to an independent panel that reviews the doctor’s recommendations and the insurer’s position and makes a final, binding determination. But Delta continues to oppose any resolution process that would take the final decision out of its hands. The insurance commissioner has virtually no authority to intervene on behalf of dental patients caught in the middle, thereby removing an important piece of public protection.

Another vetoed amendment would have required Delta to dedicate 94 percent of their premium revenues to paying dental claims from patients like you. If Delta did not meet this target, it would have been required to issue refunds to those purchasing coverage. This was the percentage Delta reported paying out in 2011, when trumpeting the efficiency of its operations, so it would seem a reasonable target today.

As the head of a nonprofit company, CEO Jim Dwyer, whose salary has more than doubled to $2.75 million over the last six years, claims Delta can no longer afford to dedicate that much to patient care. The board of directors, all now receiving more than $100,000 for part-time service on a nonprofit board, agrees.

Their position demonstrates how patient benefits increasingly are taking a back seat to advertising, salaries and other overhead. Delta’s bottom-line focus ignores what their members are saying is best for patients, a trend that sadly isn’t new.

In addition to their vetoes, the board canceled the organization’s annual meeting, depriving member dentists of another opportunity to advocate on behalf of their patients.

Instead, Delta suggests their Member Advisory Committee hold a forum to discuss the issues. But they’ve also vetoed a provision to require the board to publicly vote on recommendations from that very committee. They’ve even written the committee out of the organization’s bylaws — without a vote of the members.

In short, Delta’s response continues a well-established pattern of resisting any accountability to member dentists, the patients they serve, or state regulators. So, the battle for accountability is likely to shift to the courtroom. Dollars that should be going to patient care or promoting oral health instead will be spent on lawyers.

This isn’t just a spat between the state’s largest dental-benefits provider and its member dentists. As patients, the public has a significant stake in the outcome. If the dentists’ reforms are upheld, patients will get more money going to their care, more transparency about how their premium dollars are spent, and access to a legitimate, independent forum for resolving disputes with their insurance company.

Craig E. Neal



For an update to the below letter, please see our recent FB posting, starting "On Wednesday, Sept. 6th, 2017, over 500 Washington State dentists made their way to the Lynnwood Convention Center for a Special Meeting with Delta Dental of Washington."

As Washington State dentists could keep attorneys of their own and finally, a parliamentarian in the meetings, DDW could no longer, illegally conduct their meetings ignoring Roberts Rules of Order, as they have in the past.  Their bylaws require that Roberts Rules of Order be followed and, until now, they have flagrantly ignored this.  The proof is in their own video tapes of the meetings.  

No longer !   Read the FB post !

7. 24. 2017 VIEW ONLINE

An Open Letter to Washington Dental Service (Delta) Member Dentists from Delta Members on the WSDA Board

We want to make sure all Delta member dentists are aware of the information sent by Delta regarding the special meetings on Wednesday, September 6 at 2 p.m. at the Lynnwood Convention Center (3711 196th St S.W., Lynnwood, WA 98036).

These special meetings have been called with the signatures of nearly 650 Delta member dentists to demand fundamental changes in the business practices of Delta. Over the past several years, most of us have been subjected to Delta policies and actions that negatively impact patient care. Examples include: inconsistent claim processing, poor and misleading communications, rapidly escalating executive compensation and an unexplained increase in other administrative expenses.


Our fundamental concern with Delta is that the organization has lost its patient focus. One of the symptoms of this problem is the systematic elimination of dentist input into Delta’s decision making processes. By increasing dentist input and implementing the proposed transparency requirements on Delta’s operations, we will be able to put Delta’s focus back on the patient, where it belongs.

It is vitally important that you attend the special meetings on September 6—we are fighting for nothing less than the health of your patients and the future of your practice. We, as members of the Board of Directors of WSDA, have asked staff to organize a gathering prior to the special meetings that is open to all dentists in the state of Washington. We will use this gathering to discuss logistics surrounding the special meetings. Details about this gathering will be shared very soon.

As peer members of Delta, we recommend that you attend the special meetings in person in order to exercise your legal rights as a Delta member. We also recommend that you vote in SUPPORT of the bylaw amendments. If you absolutely cannot attend, please designate another member dentist who can attend the special meetings as your proxy. Delta members from across the state will be self-identifying themselves as individuals who can serve as a proxy at the special meetings in Lynnwood within the coming days. We strongly advise that you DO NOT MAIL YOUR PROXY BALLOT back to Delta directly at this time. We are gathering additional information about the proxy process and will share more information when it is available.

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We need all Delta members to take immediate action. Please fill out this short survey to tell us 1) if you can attend the special meetings in Lynnwood, 2) if you will volunteer to collect proxy ballots in your area, and 3) if you cannot attend the meeting and need a local Delta member to serve as your proxy.

A letter from members of the Delta Board was included in the special meetings announcement and urged Delta members to vote down the bylaws amendments, which have been supported by hundreds of dentists across Washington state. Delta is continuing its campaign of fear and intimidation to demand acquiescence from its members. Delta has misrepresented the purpose of these amendments.

Now is not the time to be cowed by Delta’s fear tactics. Now is the time join with your colleagues and demand that Delta return its focus to patient-centered care, decrease its unnecessary administrative expenses, and adopt patient-centered reforms already used by medical insurance carriers in our state.

Check back for updates on this important initiative at

Please join us in driving this important and necessary change at Delta Dental of Washington.


Delta Members of the WSDA Board of Directors

Dr. Bernard J. Larson, President
Dr. Cynthia R. Pauley, President-elect
Dr. Nathan G. Russell, Secretary/Treasurer
Dr. Bryan C. Edgar, Immediate Past President
Dr. Theodore M. Baer
Dr. Marissa N. Bender
Dr. Dennis L. Bradshaw
Dr. Christopher Delecki
Dr. Linda J. Edgar
Dr. Todd R. Irwin
Dr. Christine L. Kirchner
Dr. Eric J. Kvinsland
Dr. James W. Reid
Dr. Ashley L. Ulmer


 Washington Dentists: An important effort was launched at last week’s 2017 Pacific Northwest Dental Conference. WSDA members and other Washington dentists have called for special meetings to begin the process of making a series of bylaw amendments that could result in big changes for Delta Dental of Washington. 

Today, WSDA President Dr. Bernard J. Larson and Executive Director Bracken Killpack hand delivered petitions to Delta Dental of Washington with nearly 650 signatures collected in less than 24 hours. 

Upon receipt of these petitions, with signatures of at least 10 percent of its member dentists, Delta is required to schedule the requested special meetings and announce the date of those meetings within 30 days. We expect to more than meet that threshold, forcing special meetings to deal with the bylaws amendments. We will keep you updated on when those meetings are scheduled, and it is important that all concerned dentists who are members of Delta attend. 

Each of the proposed bylaws amendments reflects our efforts to enhance the doctor-patient relationship by shifting Delta’s focus back to patients and their providers. The changes are also designed to give Delta member dentists more visibility into its operations.  The proposed bylaws amendments would achieve the following improvements:


  • Require that 94% of Delta revenues be directed to paying for patient care, and require any administrative costs above 6% be refunded to those purchasing coverage.
  • Require that Delta, like other health insurance providers, work with the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and participate in an independent review board when there is a dispute between the company and a provider over care decisions.

Require that Delta Board of Directors formally vote on all recommendations from its Member Advisory Board regarding patient care procedures, claims processing and other issues, and make the results of those votes available to the Member Advisory Board and Delta members.



  • Redefine independent director to align with the instructions set forth in Internal Revenue Service Form 990.
  • Eliminate the requirement that independent directors constitute the majority of the Governance and Nominating Committee.
  • Remove the provision that the President and CEO is automatically a member of the board without a vote of the Delta members.
  • Provide additional opportunities for Delta members to nominate individuals to serve as directors of the corporation.

Encourage contested elections for director positions and require written ballots, with the disclosure of results to Delta members.



  • Require that Delta disclose its administrative expenses by category, as well as detailed financial statements of all affiliated entities, including corporate contributions to its foundation and how these contributions are used, particularly regarding lobbying and commercial advertising.
  • Require that Delta disclose the percentage of claims denied and, of those, the percentage reviewed by a licensed dentist in making the denial decision.
  • Require that Delta make corporate records, including Board of Directors and all committee meetings minutes, available to Delta members for their review consistent with state law.

For more information on this important initiative, please visit




CDWS recommendations for your proxy for the Delta Membership Meeting 11/9/16 at Sea-Tac

CDWS does not endorse the candidates eligible for re-appointment as they have been, again, handpicked by Delta with little or no member input. Member dentists can vote for the candidates, or abstain. There is no option to vote “no” for the candidates. We recommend “abstain”.  To abstain, you only have to cross out the candidate’s names on the ballot. If Delta does not get enough votes (majority of ballots turned in) for the candidates they have put up for reappointment, they must nominate new ones. Use the return envelope to mail your ballot.  

If you would like CDWS to vote on your behalf, you must cross out Phipps and Rutherford’s names on the ballot (they show up twice, so there will be 4 cross-outs), and write in Chris Pickel, DDS as the appointee to manage your ballot at the meeting. This should be mailed to the address below.  There is no option to vote “no”.  We (CDWS) will be voting for abstentions, as that is the only option we have. If they don’t get enough votes for the candidates they have put up for reappointment, they will have to nominate new ones. 

Chris Pickel, DDS

North Seattle Dental

11011 Meridian Avenue N. #301

Seattle, WA 98133


Delta Dental of Washington State--Meeting 11-11-16

Concerned Dentists of Washington State cordially invite you, once again, to join them for a pre-meeting discussion, prior to the Annual Meeting on November 11. 

We are hosting a room with a buffet lunch, at no charge, starting at 12:30 pm.  This is also being subsidized and supported by the WSDA.  Speakers will include one of our board members from CDWS, WSDA President Elect, Cindy Pauley, and Michelle Caldier, our state representative in Olympia.  This is also a fundraiser for Michelle.

PARKING: Please bring your parking ticket inside.  Someone will stamp it with a code for the reduced fee of $6.00.

Registration for the Annual Meeting will begin down the hall, at 2 pm and the meeting will start at 3 pm.  Please watch for your ballots in the mail for the appointment of new DDW board members.  This meeting is the only time for you to ask questions and make your voices heard so please come and encourage your colleagues to do the same.   We want to have a high turnout to show how concerned we are with the state of dentistry where we live.

The hosted room for the lunch is the NW Ballroom and the DDW meeting will be close by, on the same floor, in the Grand Ballroom.

We look forward to your attendance and your voice !   We appreciate all donations to CDWS: please contribute on this website through paypal with a credit card.   Thank you !  


Friday November 11, 2016

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Seattle Airport

18740 International Blvd
Seattle, WA
(206) 246-8600



There has been evidence that the three largest distributors of dental supplies in the United States (Henry Schein Inc., Patterson Companies Inc., and Benco Dental Supply Company) may have unlawfully agreed to suppress competition by keeping new lower-priced distributors from entering the dental supply market since at least 2012. Because these three distributors collectively control 80% of the dental supply distribution market in the United States, this has caused private dental practices who directly purchase dental supplies from those distributors to pay artificially inflated prices for those supplies, thereby decreasing net income flowing to private dental practices. 

The Keller Rohrback firm has an antitrust and trade regulation group, which has played a prominent role in large price-fixing, price discrimination and monopolization cases litigated across the country.  For example, in In re Vitamins Antirust Litigation, Keller Rohrback played a significant role in litigating one of the largest and most successful antitrust cases in history, resulting in recoveries totaling over $1 billion for two classes of businesses who directly purchased bulk vitamins. 

Some or many of you may well have any interest in learning more about potentially pursuing over-payment claims through a class action on a contingency fee basis (attorney fees are only paid out of any recovery obtained). 

If so, then please contact either Mark Griffin or Amy Hanson, who are one of the two attorneys handling this matter – here is their contact info:

Mark Griffin:

(206) 623-1900

Amy Hanson:

(206) 623-1900

Delta Dental of Washington State Meeting, 11-13-15

Concerned Dentists of Washington State cordially invite you to a social and fundraiser for State Representative, Dr. Michelle Caldier. She is our voice in Olympia for dentistry and the only dentist in the legislature. She will update you on the current issues affecting our industry and what we can expect for the future. Some topics to be discussed include our position against the illegal practice of corporate dentistry and mid-level providers. We also support the continued discussions with third party payers, particularly Delta Dental of WA.

This will be presented in advance of the annual membership meeting for Delta Dental of WA. This is your opportunity to get informed and get involved in the future of your profession. You are the expert on the oral health of our patients, not non-dentists or corporate entities. We will also have a guest speaker, Dr. Greg Yen talk to you about innovative strategies to minimize the influence of third party payers in your practice.

11:00  Buffet Lunch.

11:30  Dr. Greg Yen "How to successfully eliminate 3rd party influence from your practice".

12:30  Dr. Michelle Caldier, "Legislative issues of concern to Washington State dentists".

2:00    Register for Annual Membership Meeting for Delta Dental of WA (formerly WDS)

3:00    DDW Annual Meeting begins

Concerned Dentists of Washington State will be hosting this meeting at no charge. We will also be providing guidance for voting at the DDWA meeting in future correspondences. We look forward to your attendance and your voice!

We appreciate all donations: please contribute on this website through paypal, with a credit card.   Thank you !    


Friday November 13, 2015

Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center

17620 International Blvd.

Seattle, WA 98188



Annual Delta Dental Meeting 11-21-13

On November 21, 2013, the Delta Dental of Washington annual meeting was held at the Seatac Hilton.  One board member running for re-election and one new board member were both elected to the WDS board.  Congratulations go to both Doug Beck and Kurt Labberton.  Both have worked hard for WDS for many years and we hope they can represent member dentists well during their terms as board members.

During the meeting there was a presentation on the upcoming ACA (Affordability Care Act).  Nothing new was presented beyond what you have all been reading about in numerous publications by now.  Also, there were questions from member dentists pertaining to new insurance plans and future Delta Dental plans for current PPO and Premier dentists.  Of particular interest in discussions was the new plan which T-Mobile signed with Delta Dental in which member dentists are no longer reimbursed anything at all unless they are part of the PPO network.

The meeting was poorly attended with only about 40 member dentists out of 4000 attending.  As concerned dentists, we cannot emphasize enough: if you want to be heard and affect decisions by Delta Dental, you need to attend these meetings in person and make your voice heard.  One meeting a year with plenty of advance notice should be feasible for many of you to attend.  Just talking about your frustrations will not accomplish anything.  We hope to encourage better attendance next year.  Please leave us your thoughts and questions on our Facebook page.  And we wish everyone a pleasant holiday season and a happy new year.



WDS Member Dentists, October, 2013

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  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



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:

WDS Proxy


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.  

Respectfully, CDWS



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.

An Open Letter to WDS (PDF)


Here is the "Plain English" breakdown of the new WDS bylaws:

Summary of WDS's New Bylaws (PDF)


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!


Proposed Bylaw Changes

Summary of Proposed Bylaw Changes (PDF)
Petition with Red-Lined Bylaw Changes (PDF)
CDWS Answer to WDS Few Facts (PDF)

Please Support CDWS

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