October 2019


by Board Chair Ron Bolden, Cigna

Just over a month ago we hosted CONVERGE 2019 – one of the most successful industry conferences I have ever attended. With session ratings ranging from 3.25 – 4.79 out of 5, CONVERGE delivered dental specific content addressing our challenges and equipping us to succeed in our industry. Each year CONVERGE also marks the beginning of key transitions for our organization. Following CONVERGE many volunteer groups and staff wrap-up current projects and lay the foundation for next year. At the same time, our advocacy volunteer groups continue to represent us on the current issues facing our members. In this column I will briefly highlight key activities in each of these areas.


New Executive Director: One of the most significant transitions that occurred at CONVERGE this year was the interview of the top two candidates for the next executive director to lead our organization following the retirement of Evelyn F. Ireland, CAE at the end of 2019. The Board selected Eme Augustini, our current government relations director, after a competitive, national search and vetting process through Korn Ferry and the NADP Search Committee. In the final interview with the Board, it was clear that Eme has the knowledge of our industry and issues as well as the relationships with staff to quickly engage as our new leader. And Evelyn Ireland will continue full time in a consulting role through the end of the year to support Eme through the transition.

Board Election: Congratulations to our newly elected NADP Board Members: Jeff Album, Delta Dental of CA, NY, PA & Affiliates; Dr. Mary Lee Conicella, Aetna; Donna Hunter, United Concordia Dental and Kevin Klein*. Annual board elections begin at CONVERGE and continue for two more weeks past the conference.

*When elected, Kevin was with Guardian but has since left the company. Board historical policy is to allow a Board member up to 60 days to reengage with an NADP voting member company.

Volunteer Recruitment: The annual Call for Volunteers opens at CONVERGE and continues through October. We’ve had a tremendous response to the Call and will announce volunteer appointments following the Board’s upcoming election of officers (executive committee). The announcement of the 2020 volunteer groups will be posted in the NADP Open Forum in Dental Interact.

Project Wrap-ups and 2020 Preparations

Research Commission: To complete the 2019 library of Statistical Surveys, the Research Commission recently reviewed the Plan Design and Claims Metrics reports. For more details about these and additional research activities, see the “Research Report” in this issue.

Education Commission:  The Education Commission is completing its 2019 program with a series of fall webinars on a variety of topics ranging from network accessibility, virtual credit cards, Medicare / Medicaid and inter-professional practice.

Leadership Conference: Plans are underway for the 2020 Leadership Conference, Jan.13-15 at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Marriott.  This meeting is vital for members of our volunteer groups, which develop their annual work plans and evaluate their progress as it relates to the Strategic Plan.  Watch for an announcement about registration and event details.

Advocacy Advancements

NADP is a strong, influential voice for our industry. While there are multiple issues impacting us, I want to highlight key initiatives that have taken center stage in recent weeks.

  • Dental in Medicare: Long before the introduction of The Lower Prescription Drug Costs Now Act of 2019. (H.R. 3), NADP has been preparing how to represent our industry regarding dental benefits in Medicare. Preparations include the creation of a Medicare Sub-WorkGroup and continued analysis and discussion by the Government Funded Programs WorkGroup and strategy development by Commission on Advocacy Policy. Last week NADP represented you on H.R. 3 by outlining the following objectives for any Medicare dental benefit:
    • Improve Oral Health
    • Leverage Private Market Enterprise
    • Ensure Consumer Choice
    • Foster Competition and Innovation
      • See the Advocacy section of this newsletter for detailed information about the bill and NADP’s response.

Independent Purchase

For years NADP has urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to make the necessary adjustments to offer the independent purchase of dental benefits on NADP noted that the ability to purchase a dental plan without having to first buy medical coverage would increase consumer access to dental benefits. Recently, Senate leaders urged CMS to make the independent purchase of dental benefits a top priority. Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) was instrumental in elevating this issue with CMS. Here’s how it happened: 

During Advocacy in Action (AIA) 2019, NADP members discussed this issue with Sen. Grassley, noting how CMS has the authority to make the independent purchase of dental benefits possible. Sen. Grassley vowed to get this issue elevated at CMS in a call he had scheduled that day with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. The very day industry advocates were on the Hill, NADP members and staff helped provide Sen. Grassley information he would use on the call to press the Secretary for change. 

Months later, CMS representatives came to the Hill to meet with the senators who signed the “2018 Dear Colleague letter” and Sen. Grassley. CMS indicated no philosophical or legal objections to the change; CMS had previously responded to the Senate with legal objections, and that the change is on their priority list. Recently, another member of Congress who met with NADP advocates during AIA got language inserted in a draft report of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging CMS to provide for the independent purchase of dental benefits for the 2020 Plan Year.

What helped to move the independent purchase issue forward? NADP’s strength, influence and relationships that come from years of NADP members working together on a common goal. NADP volunteers have submitted multiple comment letters, traveled to countless meetings and participated in NADP’s annual day on the Hill, AIA, since 2016. The meeting with Sen. Grassley advanced the issue to the next level. Through NADP, we gained momentum on this issue—proving we are stronger together than apart.

The above story is only one of many I could tell to show how important it is to be a member of NADP. While the legislative and regulatory issues facing us will change over time, the result is the same: NADP is a strong voice because of our collective effort and collaboration that comes from members like you.

The above highlights indicate the depth and breadth of programs and services included in your NADP membership. It also demonstrates the level of activity taking place on your behalf. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding NADP membership, please contact me.





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