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After settlement, Delta Dental elects petition candidates to its board

April 06, 2015

By Kimber Solana

St. Louis — In its election to fill five board of directors vacancies, Delta Dental of Missouri participating dentists overwhelmingly voted for candidates who petitioned to be included in the ballot — rejecting all nominees recommended by the board.

The outcome of the mail-in election, officials say, sent a clear message to the nonprofit that members wanted a change in direction.

“I perceive this to be a mandate by the participating provider membership to make the board of directors of Delta Dental of Missouri more sensitive to the wishes of the dental community,” said Dr. Robert Butler, whom the new board elected chair.

The election result comes about three months after three dentists, including an ADA trustee, filed a complaint against Delta Dental of Missouri alleging the nonprofit was refusing to conduct an annual meeting as required by state law.

Delta Dental of Missouri had announced that it would not hold an annual meeting in 2014, and that the election of members of the board would be by mail ballot.

It was an unprecedented move and  an attempt to maintain control of the board by its existing board members, said Dr. Mark Zust, ADA 6th District trustee, who joined Drs. Matt Niewald and Douglas Wyckkoff in filing the Nov. 18, 2014, complaint. The three dentists also alleged that the nonprofit had been operating under an improperly adopted set of bylaws.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the two parties settled the complaint, resulting in an agreement to proceed with the election of its directors by mail-in ballot, and the results to be announced at an annual meeting scheduled Feb. 20 in Columbia, Missouri.

The election of new directors was based on the same candidates who were on the October/November 2014 ballot previously distributed by Delta Dental of Missouri. The mail-in ballots were sent out Jan. 31, and participating dentists cast their ballots by Feb. 13.

After the more than 1,100 votes were counted, the two public members and three dentist members elected to fill the vacancies in the 13-member board were petition candidates — candidates who gathered enough signatures from participating dentists for ballot inclusion.

“It’s my opinion that the existing board members lost sight of why Delta was created in the first place,” said Dr. Zust. “The results of the election clearly show that the participating dentists of Delta Dental of Missouri wanted a change in direction.”

The new board members are: William Bender, co-founder of accounting firm BWTP; Rosemary Bishop, vice president of health care banking at PNC Bank; and Drs. Mark Mancin, Tim Taylor and James Rhea. They join two other board members, including Dr. Butler, elected through a petition process.

Delta Dental of Missouri offers dental and vision benefits in the states of Missouri and South Carolina.

Three dentists file complaint against Delta Dental of Missouri. Read more.

Missouri Delta, dentists settle complaint. Read more.