CEO apologizes for 'outrageous' comment about dentists' work habits

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on May 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 16 at 6:00 PM

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 KING5.com.
 
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.
 
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