Delta Dental legal action: a letter from CDA's president

Dear Colleague,

I am writing you today to inform you about the latest developments in the case against Delta Dental. A recent decision by arbitrators will allow the arbitration to proceed despite a motion by Delta to dismiss it.

The legal action was filed in August 2013 by CDA and several individual dentists challenging, in part, Delta’s attempt to change Premier provider agreements. Prior to the filing, CDA learned informally of a planned rate reduction of 8 to 12 percent.

A panel of three arbitrators found that there is sufficient evidence to allow the individual dentists to proceed with claims that Delta’s attempt to change key provisions of its participating dentist agreements violated the legal doctrine of “good faith and fair dealing.” Previously, arbitrators ruled that CDA cannot be a party in the arbitration because the contracts are between individual dentists and Delta. In response, CDA has filed a separate legal action in San Francisco Superior Court to ensure that we can continue to protect members in this matter.

We expect an arbitration hearing to occur toward the end of the year or early in 2015. With regard to CDA’s action in Superior Court, Delta will have to answer by the end of August.

We have known from the beginning that taking legal action against Delta would be arduous at best, but we knew it was the right thing to do. And although this recent decision is an important one, it is mainly procedural and not necessarily an indication of whether the arbitrators will ultimately agree with the arguments.

We believe that, at a minimum, Delta must be transparent in its processes, submit comprehensive data to justify any actions or changes in its plans and provide reasonable notice so dentists have adequate time to make any necessary changes in their practices.

If you have challenges today that cannot wait until this issue is resolved, be assured that CDA is here to support members with sophisticated practice management and dental benefit guidance through CDA’s Practice Support at 800.232.7645 or cda.org/practicesupport.

Thank you for being a member of the California Dental Association. Your membership provides us with the opportunity to support our members in this legal action against Delta. We will continue to provide you with new information in newsletters, the CDA Update and on cda.org.

James D. Stephens, DDS