Dan Margolies

Editor, Heartland Health Monitor

Dan Margolies is editor of Heartland Health Monitor, a reporting collaboration among KCUR, KHI News Service in Topeka, KCPT television in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence, Kan. Dan joined KCUR in April 2014. In a long and varied journalism career, he has worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, The Kansas City Star and Reuters. In a previous life, he was a lawyer. He has also worked as a media insurance underwriter and project development director for a video production firm.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long…

Ways to Connect

A Kansas City, Kansas, home health care agency and its owner will pay $1.8 million to settle allegations that it paid kickbacks in return for referrals of Medicaid patients to the agency.

Best Choice Home Health Care Agency Inc. and its owner, Reginald B. King, will pay the federal government just over $1 million and the state of Kansas $788,220 to resolve the case, according to court documents unsealed on Monday.

File Photo

The state of Kansas incurred nearly $300,000 in legal fees in just three months to defend a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood challenging the state’s decision to boot the organization from the Medicaid program.

Invoices obtained by KCUR show that outside law firms representing the state billed it $282,477 in legal fees and $2,725 in expenses between May 29 and Aug. 31.

wp paarz / Creative Commons-Flickr

Frustrated by the Missouri Legislature’s failure to enact a statewide prescription drug plan, Jackson County this week joined St. Louis and St. Louis County in enacting its own plan, hoping it will cut down on painkiller abuse and addiction.

Missouri is the lone state in the nation without a prescription drug database, a tool used to track patients who abuse prescription painkillers and to prevent “doctor shopping” by individuals seeking prescriptions from multiple physicians.

Dan Margolies / KCUR

A couple of years ago, 41-year-old Shine Adams, a recovering alcoholic, started a small nonprofit in Lawrence to help people down on their luck.

Before then he’d been making electric guitars out of cedar wood in his basement and had some cedar scraps lying around. That gave him an idea.

“People would come over to my house and could smell the cedar from the basement and they would always compliment me on it and love the way it smells,” he says.

Jess Gamiere / www.SpecialMaster.law

The Cleveland lawyer appointed as special master to investigate the recordings of attorney-client conversations and meetings at the pretrial detention center in Leavenworth has extensive experience as a neutral third-party.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson named David R. Cohen as special master, or a third-party expert, to examine the audio and video recordings and determine whether inmates’ constitutional rights were violated.

Courtesy Olathe Medical Center

As part of an ambitious $100 million-plus expansion plan, Olathe Medical Center broke ground today on a new $25 million cancer center.

The 25,000-square-foot facility, expected to be completed next year, will consolidate the hospital’s currently fragmented cancer outpatient services in one place.

It’s the latest project in a frenzy of construction at the hospital’s 250-acre medical campus near 151st Street and Interstate 35. The last year has also seen the opening of a new hospice house and the start of construction on a neonatal intensive care unit.

And then there was one.

Lewis Diuguid, a longtime member of The Kansas City Star’s editorial board, will be departing the paper along with veteran Yael Abouhalkah, who was laid off this week.

Diuguid has told friends that he intends to step down on Oct. 7, Abouhalkah’s last day at The Star.

Technically, that would leave The Star’s editorial board with only one member: newly minted publisher Tony Berg.

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

Does a prison’s failure to regard atheism as a “religious preference” violate the Constitution?

That’s the question raised by a former Missouri prisoner, who contended the failure of the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) to list “atheist” on prison intake forms violated his First Amendment rights.

The case was filed in federal court in Kansas City more than four-and-a-half years ago by Randall Jackson, a persistent DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) offender who served prison terms from 2006-08 and again from 2010-2014.

Longtime Kansas City Star editorial writer Yael T. Abouhalkah was laid off today, Abouhalkah said in a Twitter posting.

HMN Architects and Pixel Foundry

Children’s Mercy Hospital is partnering with Olathe Medical Center to provide pediatric urgent care and specialty clinics at an as-yet unbuilt facility on OMC’s 250-acre campus at 151st Street and Interstate 35.

The partnership is the first between the two hospitals. It will allow OMC to take advantage of Children’s Mercy’s wide range of expertise in treating children, especially those with complex medical conditions.

Zach Klamann / Heartland Health Monitor

Planned Parenthood Great Plains says it has joined forces with three Planned Parenthood facilities in Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, giving it a total of 12 health centers in four states.

Formerly known as Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, the organization earlier this year expanded into central Oklahoma and took on its current name to reflect its greater geographical reach.


One attorney said she’d never witnessed anything like it in her 26 years of practice.

Another said it was extraordinary – and painful – to watch.

Both were referring to a court hearing Wednesday in which a federal judge excoriated federal prosecutors for their handling of a drug smuggling case at the privately run Leavenworth Detention Center.

The University of Kansas Hospital and Hays Medical Center announced Wednesday that they have signed a letter of intent to join forces, bringing together the state’s only academic hospital and one of its leading rural hospitals.

The partnership, which was announced at simultaneous news conferences at both hospitals, builds on a relationship established nearly three years ago when the two institutions, along with more than a dozen critical care hospitals, partnered to treat heart and stroke patients in western Kansas.


Fallout from the disclosure that the pretrial detention center in Leavenworth had been recording attorney-client meetings and phone calls has now spread beyond Kansas.

The Federal Public Defender’s office in Kansas City, Missouri, recently sought to have one of its clients released from detention as a result of the apparent breach of attorney-client privilege.

Courtesy Nimrod Chapel Jr.

An attorney for the so-called “Medicaid 23” says his clients will appeal their convictions on trespassing charges, even though they face no jail time.

A Cole County, Missouri, jury on Wednesday acquitted 22 clergy members of obstructing government operations but found them guilty of trespassing when they refused to leave the Missouri Senate gallery during a protest in May 2014. The case of the 23rd defendant will be decided later.

Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons-Flickr

New revelations emerged at a court hearing today that the private prison contractor operating a pretrial detention center in Leavenworth recorded phone conversations between attorneys and their clients and turned them over to federal prosecutors.  

The disclosures came atop revelations at a hearing last Tuesday that the contractor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), had made video recordings of meetings at the Leavenworth Detention Center between lawyers and their clients and turned those over to prosecutors.

Marshall Griffin / St. Louis Public Radio

The trial of 23 people who protested Missouri’s failure to expand Medicaid began today in Jefferson City with jury selection.

The so-called Medicaid 23 defendants include many notable Kansas City clergy members, among them Sam Mann, Wallace Hartsfield and Vernon P. Howard Jr. They are accused of trespassing and obstructing government operations, both misdemeanors.

The unusual mass trial stems from protests the defendants staged in May 2014. They were arrested after refusing to leave the Senate gallery, where they were chanting and singing.

RedBull Trinker / Flickr — CC

An investigation into the distribution of contraband at the Leavenworth Detention Center has morphed into an explosive case involving possible violations of attorney-client privilege on a massive scale.

Evidence at a hearing Tuesday revealed that the private contractor operating the facility, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), made video recordings of confidential conversations between inmates and their attorneys and passed some of it on to government prosecutors in response to a grand jury subpoena.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Since the Affordable Care Act took effect, Wyandotte County has seen the number of its uninsured fall from 26 percent to 18 percent, one of the biggest drops in the country.

But it’s one thing to boast of boosting the ranks of the insured, another to steer them through a complicated and, at times, bewildering health care system.

With a $1.9 million grant from the United Health Foundation, announced today by county officials at the offices of the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, the county is now in a better position to do that.

Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

The death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab Sunday on the Schlitterbahn water park’s Verrückt water slide is the first known accident involving the attraction since it opened in 2014.

But at least three negligence lawsuits have been filed since 2014 against Schlitterbahn, which opened seven years ago – although none involved the Verrückt, at 17 stories the world’s tallest water slide.

A company that issues health care ID cards for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and other insurers said it had experienced a data breach that may affect more than 400,000 Missouri policyholders.

Newkirk Products Inc. said the breached data varied by plan but generally only included information found on members’ ID cards.

Kelly Cannon, a spokeswoman for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, said financial and medical information was not exposed.

Creative Commons-Wikimedia

Three Kansas City hospitals earned national bragging rights in U.S. News & World Report’s latest hospital rankings.

The University of Kansas Hospital was nationally ranked in 11 adult specialties, Children’s Mercy Hospital was nationally ranked in 10 pediatric specialties, and Saint Luke’s Hospital was nationally ranked in four adult specialties.

The three were the only hospitals in the metro to receive national recognition in the publication’s 27th annual Best Hospitals rankings.

Zach Klamann / Heartland Health Monitor

Missouri must pay more than $156,000 in attorneys’ fees after losing a court battle against Planned Parenthood over the revocation of its abortion license in Columbia, Missouri, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey on Monday awarded Planned Parenthood Great Plains (formerly Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri) all but $157.50 of the legal fees and expenses it sought after it prevailed in the case.

The Kansas City Star laid off another dozen employees Monday, the latest round of cuts and buyouts at the newspaper over the last few months.

The laid-off employees included copy and web editors, several people in marketing and longtime outdoors editor Brent Frazee, a 36-year veteran of the newspaper.

The new round of reductions follows voluntary buyout offers and layoffs in March that shrank the newsroom by at least 10 employees.

University of Kansas Hospital

This story was updated at 2:16 p.m. to include the response of KU Hospital.

A University of Kansas Hospital pathologist’s lawsuit alleging the hospital’s chief pathologist misdiagnosed a patient as having cancer and subsequently covered it up has taken a strange new turn.

On Friday, the plaintiff, Dr. Lowell L. Tilzer, voluntarily dismissed his whistleblower action against the hospital, saying he “believes further litigation of this claim is not necessary to protect him from retaliation at this time.”

Shawnee Mission Health / Facebook

Federal health officials today released much anticipated – and controversial – quality ratings for 4,000 hospitals in the United States, and just one in greater Kansas City, Shawnee Mission Medical Center, received the top rating of five stars.

The ratings, published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), are intended to enable consumers to comparison shop and to encourage hospitals to improve their quality of care.


A legal challenge to Missouri’s execution protocol brought by four taxpayers has been rejected by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

In a decision Tuesday, the appeals court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the taxpayers’ claims just days after they filed their lawsuit.

The lawsuit sought to halt the scheduled execution by lethal injection of convicted murderer David Zink. The execution went ahead as scheduled, on July 14, 2015.

Zink had been found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and rape in the 2001 death of 19-year-old Amanda Morton.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Three Kansas residents sued Secretary of State Kris Kobach today, challenging the dual voter registration system that was proposed by Kobach and adopted by a state commission last week.

The system bars more than 17,000 Kansas voters from voting in state and local elections while allowing them to vote in federal election contests.

The State Rules and Regulations Board last week formally enacted the system as a temporary regulation. Temporary regulations expire in 120 days – in this case, that happens to coincide with the day after the general election on Nov. 8.

KCUR 89.3

Steve Bell, a mainstay of radio broadcasting in Kansas City for four decades, died Monday. He was 77.

Bell collapsed while doing what he loved most – working in the KCUR newsroom and preparing for the day’s afternoon newscast.

“We are in shock. Steve was such an integral part of KCUR,” said Donna Vestal, the station’s director of content strategy. “He was a proud, accomplished journalist who had a tremendous influence on all of us. He will be missed every day.”

Food and Drug Administration

Tippin’s Gourmet Pies LLC has voluntarily recalled several lots of its key lime pies because they may contain flour with peanut residue, the Food and Drug Administration said.

Tippin’s said it conducted the recall of the popular product after its supplier, the Kellogg Company, recalled graham cracker crumbs used in the pies’ crusts because they may contain peanut residue.

No illnesses or allergic reactions to the pies have been reported, but Tippin’s said it was taking the action “out of an abundance of caution.”