By Bob Katzen
The second question on the November ballot asks voters if they support a requirement that dental insurance plans spend at least 83 percent of their premiums received from members on dental care for the members and quality improvements rather than the administrative expenses of running the company.
The proposal is sponsored by the Committee on Dental Insurance Quality. Chief opposition to the proposal is being led by the similarly named Committee to Protect Public Access to Quality Dental Care.
“Dental insurance pays too little of patient costs, so families, seniors and individual patients with insurance struggle to cover their dental costs,” Chris Keohane, a spokesperson for the “Yes on 2” campaign told Beacon Hill Roll Call. “Requiring insurance companies to put more money into actual patient care will mean a better deal for patients. Similar to medical insurance laws, this law would require dental insurance companies to allocate at least 83 percent of paid premiums to patient care or refund premiums to patients to meet this standard. Simply put, a ‘Yes’ vote is a value guarantee for voters.”
“Delta Dental has funded roughly 90 percent of the ‘No’ side of Question 2 and have spent several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees trying to silence the voters who signed to have this placed on the ballot,” continued Keohane. “The facts are simple. Delta Dental doesn’t want people in Massachusetts to know that they spent only $177 million in actual patient care the same year they ‘gifted’ $291 million to their parent company. These are verifiable facts on their own IRS 990 Tax Form. Now they are spending millions to confuse voters with blatant lies and it is shameful.”
The “No on 2” campaign did not respond to repeated requests by Beacon Hill Roll Call to answer questions about its campaign. The following information is from the campaign’s website.
“Question 2 will increase dental costs for Massachusetts families and employers — by 38 percent, according to an independent study by Milliman Research,” says the “No on 2” campaign on its website. “A recent survey of Massachusetts consumers and businesses found that if such increases occur, more than half of consumers would likely drop their dental insurance and 90 percent of businesses indicated that they would be likely to make changes to coverage – including decreasing employer contributions and employee benefits or dropping dental coverage for employees altogether.”
“A ballot question is no place to decide such a complicated issue that will force consumers to pay more for the same level of care while only benefiting providers,” continued opponents. “Question 2 is an end-run around experts and the Legislature.”
Keohane told Beacon Hill Roll Call that he disputes the characterization of the study by Milliman Research as “independent.” “The ‘No’ side has peddled this study as ‘independent,’ but the insurance industry funded it, provided the data for it and their advertising is highlighting a specific portion of the ‘study’ that the authors themselves say is not possible. Their lies are a slap in the face to all voters.”
“We are extremely optimistic that ‘Yes on 2’ will win in November,” continued Keohane. “With well over 700 endorsers from patients, dentists, elected officials and organizations, we have assembled a grassroots movement that is fed up with insurance executives getting paid outrageous salaries and the exorbitant corporate waste that their own tax forms prove.”
Here are the official arguments of the supporters and opponents as they appear in the Redbook – the book, distributed by the Secretary of State to households across the state, which provides Information to voters on ballot questions.
Written by Dr. Patricia Brown
The Committee on Dental Insurance Quality
“A ‘Yes’ vote ensures better coverage and value for patients, instead of unreasonable corporate waste.
For example, according to its own 2019 Form 990, Delta Dental (in Massachusetts alone) paid executive bonuses, commissions, and payments to affiliates of $382 million, while only paying $177 million for patient care.
A ‘Yes’ vote would eliminate this inequity. Similar to medical insurance, this law would require dental insurance companies to allocate at least 83 percent of paid premiums to patient care, or refund premiums to patients to meet this standard.
Insurance companies will try to confuse voters by saying that dental insurance premiums will increase. This is false, because Section 2(d) of the law specifically disallows increases above the consumer price index without state approval.
Stop the corporate waste.
Vote ‘Yes’ for fair dental insurance.”
Written by Louis Rizoli
Committee To Protect Public Access To Quality Dental Care
“This question will increase costs for Massachusetts families and employers — a 38 percent premium increase in one recent independent study — and could result in thousands of people losing access to dental care. With consumer prices soaring, we don’t need a new regulation that will increase costs and decrease choice.
There is no law like this ballot question anywhere in the nation. The Massachusetts Legislature actually repealed a similar law in 2011 because it proved overly burdensome and provided no real benefits for consumers. Federal lawmakers excluded it from Obamacare, and a special commission in Massachusetts reviewed and rejected a similar provision. Further, the state already requires reporting from dental plans.”