subscribe to the blog

Receive email updates from the WSDA Blog.


« King 5 Posts Follow Up Article with Raw Footage of Dwyer's Interview »

The text of the story is included below. Click here to go the King 5 page.

The CEO of the states largest dental insurer offered an apology to the more than 4,000 dentists in his dental plans network.

I can certainly understand my comments have upset some member dentists, said James Dwyer in a post on Washington Dental Services Facebook page.

The apology was posted the day after a KING 5 Investigators report about rising executive salaries at Washington Dental Service in the face of deep cutbacks that affect nearly every dentist in the state. Washington Dental Services cut the reimbursement fees it pays to dentists by 15 percent last year for all procedures.

Dwyer, who earns $1.2 million a year, suggested that dentists could make up revenue by working harder. Number one, they could start working five days a week, said the CEO.

The comment touched off an angry reaction from dentists on blogs, Facebook posts, and in emails to KING 5 News.

Its a slap to the face of a recent graduate working over five days/week (including five clinical days) and barely making ends meet, said one Facebook post.

The Washington State Dental Association called the Dwyers comment outrageous and disrespectful. Click here to read their full statement.

Here is Dwyers entire statement that was posted on the Washington Dental Service's Facebook page:

Message from Jim Dwyer, CEO:

You may have seen the KING TV news report on May 10, 2012 about Washington Dental Service. I can certainly understand that my comments may have upset some member dentists. Please know that the clips of me were taken from a highly edited interview. Working more hours is one of many strategies dentists are employing to cope with a changing market place and the depressed economy.

I respect and value our member dentists, and I know they are dedicated to providing quality care for their patients. I apologize for the context of the statement.

Jim Dwyer

During the interview, Dwyer mentioned dentists' work schedules twice.  "They work three and a half days a week.  They certainly don't work four days," said Dwyer later in the interview.  Watch the raw interview by clicking here.
Some patients agreed with Dwyer’s comments. “Quite frankly I have a lot of trouble sympathizing for well paid dentists losing some money since it is VERY difficult to find dental care who will work with low income/uninsured patients,” one person posted on
Washington Dental Service is a “non-profit” organization. Tax records show it was exempt from paying federal taxes on nearly 14 million dollars in net income in the year 2010.
Dwyer defended Washington Dental’s tax exempt status, and the pay raises for company executives, in the original KING 5 Investigation.
After the investigation aired, a group of dentists who have been critical of the changes at Washington Dental called Dwyers comments offensive.”
Concerned Dentists of Washington State also issued an online statement, which was posted on their Facebook page.


Reader Comments (5)

Thanks to King 5 for the report and especially for posting the raw footage. Dwyer implied that his comments were taken out of context. In fact that is true, but, the actual comments are worse than those broadcast! As a practicing dentist of 40 years, I believe that Jim Dwyer has done much harm to the Washington State dental community with his policies and attitude. Most dentists that I know do in fact work 4 days per week. I work 4 days. My day at the office starts at 6:30 AM and finishes rarely before 5:30PM. My partner and I regularily do free dentistry and reduced fee dentistry. We see DSHS patients at a loss. We never turn away a patient and are available every Friday. My slacker 5th day off is devoted to catching up with the business end of our practice and finally getting some value family time. My overhead goes up monthly (running a dental practice is expensive), my loyal 11 staff members have not had a raise in 2 years (unlike the WDS leadership). I am near the end of my career. Many of my younger patients over the years have asked about a career in dentistry. I have always promoted their interest and helped them if they showed a desire. Now?...not the same and have cautioned them about entering into this now corporate driven health care system. I fear for the dental health of our State.

Mr. Dwyer has a "Joe Biden moment". It is nice to actually catch someone's true feelings on the record. When confronted with change, it is always the other guy that has to do the changing. I am trying to remember the last time a "4 day week" was a 32 hour one. Most are 12 without lunch and then study club, do the taxes, fix the equipment, stop at Office Depot, know how being self employed goes. What is good to have on record is that this guy is totally focused on the operation of a business just like Warren Buffett runs Burlington Northern -- it's just freight. His job is to get it there as cheap as he can. Stuff the cars full, add a few more, and roll a little longer. It's on us to keep quality the same. They assume they can get the same product out of our factories for a lower price without give and take. The only change in the contract was how much we could bill for. There was no attempt to assist us in providing a better service, and no effort on their part to help us reduce costs.

Well, the good news is that since our medical premiums went up 24% this year, employers probably are going to quit buying dental insurance, especially when they take off the tax deductability of medical and dental -- we'll be used to working five day weeks by then -- 'cause we are going to need to get a second job.

I quit WDS in 1995 and never regretted it. My more senior dentist colleagues remind me that the dentists
saved WDS from bankruptcy in the past. It has come full circle to become an adversary. So sad that it has
come to this. And yet our hands are tied?... The remainder of this comment has been edited.

05.17.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave Carsten, DDS

Great comments by all! Hope they keep coming. I actually worked for WDS in the 90's adjudicating claims one day per week. Back in those days the guys running the show actually knew what running a dental practice was all about and how much time it actually takes. Dwyer apparently thinks that the only time we are working is when we are actually seeing patients. The guy has no concept. For the hierarchy of WDS to think this way was is outrageous. For a company that is dependant on the dentists in large way and to get on TV with the comments he made is unbelievable (and the raw footage is even better than the edited version).

By the way what is the Board doing? How as dentist can you go to sleep at night being on a Board that helps run a company such as this. The whole situation is truly outrageous! Dwyer thinks he is impervious........we'll see. By the way their was no comment on King 5 about the bonus he gets every year on top of his salary and I am sure that will go up big time this year for the "great job" he is dong!

05.17.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Marinkovich

It seems an unpleasant irony that the Great Recession has benefited the sharply rising salaries and bonuses of WDS executives while at the same time they chose to deliver a significant financial hit to their member dentists. I encourage our state legislators to empower our state insurance commissioner, Mike Kriedler, to make some reforms on the misuse of non-profit status, especially a misuse that rewards the avarice of greedy executives.

In my own practice of 38 years the WDS reimbursement hit is 21%. My talented and loyal staff have not had a raise in two years and cannot look forward to one. By what percentage did the WDS CEO's income rise during that time?

Thanks to King 5 for exposing the facts to the public. I pray the public's disgust will cause some pressure for reform.

05.18.2012 | Unregistered CommenterNorm Goodwin, DDS

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>