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A revised proposed settlement agreement between Delta Dental of California and the plaintiff class of Premier dentists has been filed in Superior Court. The revised settlement includes an agreement by Delta Dental to pay an unprecedented monetary award that nearly doubles the amount the parties had previously agreed upon to more than $65 million. CDA and the other class representatives Dec. 14 filed a renewed motion for preliminary approval of the revised proposed class settlement, which resulted from additional mediation with Delta Dental earlier this year. The additional mediation was required after an error in the financial calculations was discovered during the validation CDA required of the prior settlement amounts.
The proposed monetary settlement, now up to $65,029,299, is the result of legal action that CDA began against Delta Dental in 2013 to protect members’ rights to fair dealings after learning of Delta’s plans to reduce Premier Provider rates by 8 to 12 percent. The legal action, which ultimately grew into a class action on behalf of all Premier dentists, even those who were not CDA members, successfully blocked Delta’s attempt to reduce Premier dentist reimbursement rates for over four years, which has saved dentists more than $600 million in Premier plan fee reimbursements.
“CDA took a stand for members and we succeeded — not only in our fight to protect dentists’ right to fair dealings, but in achieving an unprecedented settlement with Delta Dental for Premier Providers,” said CDA President Clelan Ehrler, DDS, MS. “And with CDA working diligently for our members, that settlement amount has now topped $65 million and been expanded to include an even larger number of dentists than the previous settlement.”
In verifying the previously proposed settlement amount of $34,750,000, an error was discovered in the procedure Delta used to calculate the impact of its inflation adjustment percentage (INAP), which was the basis for the alleged underpayment to class members. Upon discovery of the error, the parties agreed that it was necessary to go back to mediation to negotiate a new settlement amount on behalf of the class. As a result, the monetary settlement nearly doubled, the number of dentists eligible for awards expanded and the attorneys’ fees and expenses Delta must pay increased from $1.5 million to $2.35 million. Additionally, terms of the previous settlement still stand that require Delta to provide dentists with 120 days’ notice of changes to PDAs and 12 days’ notice to CDA to prepare for questions from its members. Delta must also provide an individualized financial analysis of the financial impact of any future rate reductions for each Premier dentist whose practice will be affected by that reduction.
Not every Premier Provider had his or her fees reduced by the INAP, in which case those individuals will not receive any payment. Those dentists who did have their fees limited by this procedure will receive some proportionate retroactive reimbursement.
“CDA is committed to supporting our members in many ways, and this settlement is only one example of the lengths CDA will go on behalf of members to ensure their voices are heard,” said Ehrler. “It would have been virtually impossible for members to have fought Delta on their own — it is the strength of our membership that allowed us to do this, for members and for the profession.”
The court has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 27 in San Francisco Superior Court on plaintiffs’ motion to grant its preliminary approval of this amended settlement agreement as fair and reasonable. If the court grants preliminary approval of the amended settlement agreement, a formal written notice of the amended settlement agreement will be mailed to all class members in January. This notice will give a written description of the amended settlement agreement and provide the relevant information about it to all class members.
CDA will continue to keep members informed about the proposed amended settlement through the Update, newsletter and cda.org. Members with questions about the terms or meaning of the settlement may contact CDA at 800.232.7645.