Jeffrey Feingold left a legacy on GOP politics and dental reform

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Jeffrey Feingold, a zealous lawyer and prolific Republican fundraiser who gave at least as generously as he asked others to give, died Oct. 7 of cancer, his family said. He was 75 years old.

By the late 1980s, Feingold owned a series of dental clinics and was active in Republican politics in Florida. Although he was in his forties by then, he approached both his business and political causes with the energy of an intern in his twenties trying to gain a foothold.

“He shows up at the campaign headquarters in South Florida to put Tom gallagher traffic signs on the back of his long-distance Lexus, ”recalls Paul Mitchell, then assistant to the insurance commissioner.

“There was just something different about this guy,” Mitchell said. A thought occurred to him: “For example: ‘Close your mouth and open your ears and listen, watch and learn’. “

In retrospect, Dr. Feingold was just getting started. He would realize a bigger dream of founding a business that would provide dental care to underserved children and adults. Managed Care in North America (MCNA) created a managed dental care system funded by Medicaid and other programs in eight states.

Former Florida president of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Feingold has occasionally supported Democratic candidates while remaining on the right.

“He was a stubborn son of a gun,” said Mitchell, now a lobbyist with The southern group. “If he had a cause at one point, he was persistent, and some people found that difficult to come to terms with. But you could apply that same personality to his passion for Israel and Judaism. I am a practicing Christian, but he understood Christianity as well as Judaism. Everything that concerned his life he approached with full passion.

In 1975, Feingold and his wife, Barbara, co-founded the Dentaland organization. Its seven clinics would extend from Aventura to Melbourne. The practices were often located in underserved areas, including well off Interstate 95 surrounding Port St. Lucie, an area populated by farm laborers.

The unique Dentaland model brought together several dental specialties in the same practice.

“No one has ever had this before,” his son said, Glen feingold. “He would have a general dentist, a pediatric dentist, an orthodontist, a periodontist, all the specialties under one roof. “

But Feingold, a periodontist specializing in gum disease, wanted to go much further. By treating the patients of Dentaland, he knew how these Floridians lacked proper care.

“He lived in Dade County and Medicaid was paying all that money, but the kids weren’t seen by doctors,” Mitchell said.

So Feingold saw them, many with irreversible damage from years of neglect.

“He took the worst of the worst,” Mitchell said.

When he looked into their mouths he saw a broken system.

“If they’re adult teeth and they’re rotten, Medicaid would only pay for extractions. And he looks at a 17 year old kid and says, “The only solution I have for you is to take them out.” So you have kids who are going to struggle with that for the rest of their lives because they have issues with appearance, and that leads to issues with trust. He became obsessed with it, ”Mitchell added.

In 1990, Feingold founded MCNA Dental Plans in Fort Lauderdale, originally to manage Medicaid benefits for state agencies. Managed care, which attempts to contain costs through provider networks, gained momentum in the late 1980s compared to traditional fee-for-service insurance. What began as pilot programs in Duval and Broward counties quickly spread to Miami-Dade and across the state.

“He was a dental benefits administrator headed by a dentist,” said Glen Feingold, who served as MCNA’s chief operating officer. “It wasn’t like a hedge fund that just wanted to create a health plan. So he knew the importance of caring for members, providing them with access to dental care in rural areas across the state.

Jeffrey Peter Feingold was born January 3, 1946 in Brooklyn. After graduating from Tulane University, he obtained a doctorate in dental surgery from New York University College of Dentistry in 1971. He completed a residency at the Eastman Institute for Oral Health, which is part of the University of Rochester, known for its pioneering work on the use of dental sealants and implants.

On his way to the Doral Country Club (now Trump National Doral Miami), he met Barbara moss, Speech Therapist. They married in 1973.

Feingold continued his education at Farleigh Dickenson University School of Dentistry in Teaneck, New Jersey, where he earned a Master of Science in Periodontics. His son said all of this advanced training, including treating Eastman farm workers with shoe shortages, reinforced Feingold’s need to provide dental care to underserved people.

MCNA would serve Floridians through Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which targets children living at home and not eligible for Medicaid. Its selling point to the state was its ability to deal with more customers at a lower cost.

After pioneering a business model he believed in, Feingold successfully introduced it to other states.

“We showed them what we were doing in Florida,” said Glen Feingold, “and how we can save them money while achieving better results and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse.”

He brought Texas on board, then Arkansas and Louisiana. The success of these programs has led to contracts in Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska and Utah. As he moved away from active patient treatment in the mid-1990s, he was leading the company and its interests in Tallahassee.

“Being a dentist himself, he understood the nuances that you had to go through to provide this type of care,” said Joe anne hart, chief lobbyist for the Florida Dental Association.

“He had a great personality,” she added. “He always made sure he had time to greet you and catch up with you. “

He broadened his philanthropic interests and, in 2010, then governor. Charlie crist appointed Feingold to the Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees. During his first term, Mitchell recalled his news, dismayed at the “card tables” that served as meeting space for directors.

“He said, ‘We are trying to market ourselves as a destination for children.’ “

The Feingolds spent nearly $ 2 million in 2014 to build a top-notch boardroom at FAU, the boardroom for Dr Jeffrey P. and Barbara S. Feingold. Both have served on many other boards and given to charities, including a synagogue and torah at an IDF base and a Feingold family torah at the B’nai Torah congregation in Boca Raton.

His political will has been strong and as the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election approached, Feingold threw his hat in the ring for Ron DeSantis, then representative of the United States. Mitchell remembers telling his friend that the Agriculture Commissioner Adam putnam all but had the Republican nomination sewn up.

“Dr. Feingold thought to himself, ‘I don’t care, this man should be governor, and that’s how it’s going to be,” Mitchell said.

In June 2019, Mitchell was sued by Ronald rubin, then commissioner of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, alleging corruption, extortion and undue influence of a public official. The lawsuit claims Mitchell, with the help of Feingold, harassed Rubin’s father, a wealthy developer, for $ 1 million in campaign contributions to the CFO. Jimmy Patronis “As a reward for Patronis supporting Rubin’s nomination.”

DeSantis and the Cabinet fired Ronald Rubin in July 2019, five months after he was hired, after several women filed complaints alleging inappropriate behavior. Mitchell declined to answer the lawsuit for the story, which caused waves in POLITICO and local newspapers for its descriptions of undue influence by lobbyists over state government.

But in a 2019 report, he called Rubin’s accusations “largely fictitious” and “a selfish attempt to distract from the shocking fact that during a career in state government that has lasted a few weeks, he managed to accumulate a series of sexual harassment. complaints which, if true, completely disqualify him as a public official.

In the year of its deposit, the president Donald trump appointed Feingold to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington. By then, he might have suspected that he would not be able to complete the five-year term. Doctors had discovered prostate cancer more than 20 years earlier.

“He always stayed on top,” his son said. “Always have the latest and most recent treatments.”

MCNA is today one of the largest companies of its kind in the country, serving more than 8 million adults and children. Feingold sold the business late last year to UnitedHealthcare, which maintained MCNA’s organizational profile and retained its name. Many healthcare professionals who started with Dentaland or MCNA have gone on to successful practices.

DeSantis delivered Feingold’s eulogy on Oct. 11 at the Beth Israel Memorial Center in Delray Beach, where Feingold and his wife lived. Former Governor of Texas and Secretary of Energy Rick perry, who now chairs MCNA’s board of directors and directs its legislative strategy, made additional remarks during an after-service shiva.

“My father had a lot of careers; it has changed people’s lives, ”said Glen Feingold. “My father left a remarkable legacy, but most important to him were his family, his Jewish faith and his friends. “

Feingold is survived by his 48 year old wife, Barbara; son, Eric and his wife, Deana, and Glen; the girl, Samantha Feingold Criss and her husband, Jonathan criss; and seven grandchildren.


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