Health care pol­i­cy can be con­fus­ing. Real­ly, real­ly con­fus­ing.

That’s why we want to share peri­od­ic pol­i­cy updates and insights with you — in plain terms. No jar­gon, no non­sense. To kick off our Plain Lan­guage Pol­i­cy series, we’d like you to meet two of our key pol­i­cy play­ers, Stephanie Berry and Devin McBray­er.

Stephanie Berry and Devin McBrayer headshots

 

Tell us a lit­tle about your­self. Your edu­ca­tion­al back­ground, past work expe­ri­ence, per­son­al accom­plish­ments, etc.

Stephanie: I have worked at Delta Den­tal for five and a half years in gov­ern­ment rela­tions – pri­mar­i­ly han­dling leg­isla­tive analy­sis.

Before com­ing to Delta, I worked for Cal­i­for­nia Pri­ma­ry Care Asso­ci­a­tion (CPCA) for five years, rep­re­sent­ing clin­ics that most­ly serve the unin­sured and under­served. At CPCA, I was the Assis­tant Direc­tor of Fed­er­al Affairs, so I ensured every­one was edu­cat­ed on the Afford­able Care Act and what that would mean for them. I real­ly enjoyed doing that.

I start­ed in advo­ca­cy and leg­is­la­tion work­ing for Con­gress­woman Doris Mat­sui. I worked in her dis­trict office, doing a lot of health­care out­reach and that got my feet wet to move toward straight advo­ca­cy.

Devin: I also came from Doris Matsui’s office, which is how I met Stephanie. Before that, I worked in D.C. for Con­gress­woman Lois Capps on the Ener­gy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee. I focused on health pol­i­cy, assist­ing with health reform bills and ana­lyz­ing them before com­ing to Sacra­men­to.

I have a Mas­ter of Pub­lic Health (MPH) from George Wash­ing­ton, and being in D.C. was a great expe­ri­ence to see first-hand how leg­is­la­tion is made and how it goes through the reg­u­la­to­ry process. So I know how to ana­lyze things here when they come across the table.

Before we’re all work and no play, what do you like to do for fun? What are your hob­bies or inter­ests out­side of work?

Stephanie: I’m an avid ski­er; my hus­band snow­boards and the kids ski. Liv­ing in Sacra­men­to, we’re close to Sier­ra Nevadas, so we get to play in the snow, but we don’t have to live in the snow. It’s nice!

Devin: I’m into bik­ing. I live in a super small apart­ment down­town, but we have four bikes. I also love to hang out with my dog.

Okay, so get­ting down to busi­ness, what is your role at Delta Den­tal?

Stephanie: We keep track of new leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tions that affect our enter­prise com­pa­nies. Because our brand is in 15 states plus D.C., that’s where we spend most of our focus. We have lob­by­ists in each of these states. We write let­ters of sup­port or oppo­si­tion and take part in advo­ca­cy activ­i­ties.

We’re also part of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion of Den­tal Plans (NADP) and Amer­i­ca’s Health Insur­ance Plans (AHIP), which help us advo­cate on the issues hap­pen­ing in states where we don’t have as much pres­ence.

In 2017, we tracked 750 bills. More than 5,000 bills come up in our search top­ics, and we nar­row those down to those that might affect us. 150 of the 750 were signed into law; 50 of those affect­ed us.

What is it like hav­ing a direct impact on health pol­i­cy and leg­is­la­tion?

Stephanie: It’s feel­ing like you can make a dif­fer­ence. You can work with con­stituents when work­ing for a con­gress­woman. You see the impact. In this role at Delta Den­tal, it’s writ­ing a sup­port or oppo­si­tion let­ter and see­ing your advice tak­en into account.

Devin: Stephanie and I both real­ly enjoy pol­i­tics and the leg­isla­tive process. It’s a hob­by to be involved. Being active in the polit­i­cal process and ana­lyz­ing leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tions might seem intim­i­dat­ing to some peo­ple, but we enjoy dig­ging through them. With our back­ground, some­times we are lucky in that we intu­itive­ly under­stand the way a bill may have been designed a cer­tain way and why. We just think it’s fun!

It sounds like you get to have fun for a liv­ing. What jumps out as mak­ing your work worth­while?

Stephanie: Com­ing to this job being raised in Cal­i­for­nia, it’s so inter­est­ing learn­ing how oth­er states think. I enjoy going to the Capi­tol in oth­er states and learn­ing that dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. The fact that we have peo­ple with boots on the ground in all these states is so help­ful. I even went to Mon­tana this year, and part­nered with Jim Dole (Sales Account Exec­u­tive). He was so great at explain­ing how things tick there. I love learn­ing the his­to­ry. And I was in Atlanta advo­cat­ing on a bill recent­ly – that per­spec­tive keeps things inter­est­ing.

Since you’re new to Delta Den­tal, what are some of your first impres­sions? What do you like most about your job so far?

Devin: I most enjoy the team I work with; they under­stand my back­ground. We’re all equal­ly pas­sion­ate about the work we’re doing and we all want to be as help­ful as pos­si­ble to oth­er busi­ness units. My first few months here have real­ly been about becom­ing a bet­ter resource to the rest of the com­pa­ny. So far I like the open­ness to col­lab­o­rate and work togeth­er.

Part of our pur­pose as a den­tal ben­e­fits provider is to “enhance lives” — can you cite an exam­ple of some­thing you’ve worked on where you tru­ly think we’re achiev­ing that pur­pose?

Stephanie: There was a piece of leg­is­la­tion enact­ed in Cal­i­for­nia in 2015 — AB 648. We sup­port­ed this bill, which was brought forth by con­sumer groups. It estab­lish­es vir­tu­al den­tal homes, which is kind of like tele­health. Den­tal providers and hygien­ists can work in low-income areas, schools, Head Start pro­grams, and clin­ics and are able to do ini­tial screen­ing and send that info to a den­tist some­where else who can view the x‑rays to eval­u­ate. It helps peo­ple where they are. We were the only den­tal plan in Cal­i­for­nia to sup­port this bill and it was signed into law.

This year, we also sup­port­ed anoth­er Cal­i­for­nia bill, SB 379. There was already a law that says all kids in Cal­i­for­nia must see a den­tist before first grade. This bill lets den­tists host free oral health assess­ments at schools because many kids who aren’t do the screen­ings either don’t have insur­ance or they’re on Med­ic­aid and don’t have time. This bill will make it eas­i­er for kids to have this assess­ment before first grade.

We’d agree that your role is def­i­nite­ly help­ing in our pur­pose to enhance lives.

Let’s end on a fun note. Since you two work with such com­plex sub­ject mat­ter, how would you describe your job to an eight-year-old child?

Stephanie: Gosh, okay. I would say that I’m work­ing to make sure more peo­ple have the chance to see a den­tist and be sure their teeth are clean and free from sug­ar bugs. I get to meet with a lot of peo­ple and talk about real­ly impor­tant issues … I get to go around the coun­try try­ing to make it eas­i­er for peo­ple to see the den­tist. What do you think of that?

Per­fect. Okay, and now a dif­fer­ent ques­tion. If you had to cre­ate your own cam­paign slo­gan, what would it be?

Devin: I’ll go with my nick­name from child­hood and it was Devin from Heav­en. I like to think that I’m very nice, and I’ve been suc­cess­ful in work­ing in leg­isla­tive offices because some­times you have to deal with peo­ple who are… not so nice. So my cam­paign would def­i­nite­ly be cen­tered around that. I’d come in on a cloud, and there would be lots of stars and some fun music!

 

Thanks for tak­ing the time to get to know two mem­bers of our Pub­lic Affairs team! For more con­tent and indus­try news, sub­scribe to our newslet­ter.