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…

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Up to Date's Steve Kraske and KCUR Health Editor Dan Margolies analyze the Supreme Court's 6-3 decision supporting the Affordable Care Act.  Hear President Obama's remarks on the decision as well as an account from attorney Madeleine McDonough who was present in the Court to hear the pronouncement.

Reactions to today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a key pillar of the Affordable Care Act – the federal tax subsidies made available through the federal insurance marketplace:

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.): “The Supreme Court has said it again and again: The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Today’s decision saves lives. The ACA is helping millions of Americans focus on their families, jobs, and quality of life, instead of worrying about what will happen if they and their family members get hurt or sick. Now I am no lawyer—I am simply a United Methodist preacher. 

Attorneys general in 10 states, including Kansas, have asked a congressional committee to investigate efforts by the Obama administration to “coerce” states to expand their Medicaid programs by withholding unrelated healthcare funds.

Richard Fahey / Flickr--CC

  This story was updated on June 24 at 11:02 a.m. to include the comments of Clark's attorney. 

A Missouri lottery winner who borrowed money from a bank, gave the bank a security interest in the lottery proceeds, defaulted on the loan and then sued the bank on the grounds Missouri’s lottery law prohibits the assignment of lottery prizes has found an unsympathetic ear in the Missouri Court of Appeals.  

Bigstock

It’s shaping up as a make-or-break moment for the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court will rule in a week or two on a challenge to Obamacare subsidies that could affect 6.4 million Americans. That’s roughly how many people obtained tax credits through health insurance exchanges operated by the federal government.

Thirty-four states chose not to set up their own marketplaces, or exchanges, and the lawsuit before the court contends the Affordable Care Act only provides for subsidies through state-operated exchanges.  

A whistleblower lawsuit alleging a Kansas oncologist provided medically unnecessary services is the second suit to question his practices, according to The Wichita Eagle.

The newspaper reported on Sunday that Viran Roger Holden, the former chair of the Mercy Clinic oncology department in Springfield, Missouri, claims he was fired after raising questions about Greg Nanney, a cancer doctor who now works for Central Care Cancer Center in Newton and Great Bend, Kansas, and in Bolivar, Missouri.

Johnson County health officials confirmed that a 19-year-old University of Kansas student who died this weekend had come down with bacterial meningitis.

Leawood resident Haley Drown, who graduated from Blue Valley North High School last year, was pronounced dead on Sunday.

This story was updated at 5:14 p.m. to include comments from a spokeswoman for Cox Medical Center.

Cox Medical Center in Branson, Missouri, is the latest hospital to come under scrutiny for billing Medicare for a rare form of malnutrition usually seen in third-world countries.

In a report released Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) said not one of the hospital’s 59 claims for the treatment of Kwashiorkor that the OIG reviewed was legitimate.

Story updated at 12:26 p.m.

Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City overbilled Medicare $581,000 over a two-year period, a federal report concludes.

The report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the hospital failed to comply with Medicare requirements for 80 of 294 inpatient and outpatient claims reviewed by OIG.

America's Health Rankings Senior Report

Kansas dropped seven places in a report assessing which states are the healthiest for seniors while Missouri moved up one spot.

The third edition of the United Health Foundation’s “America’s Health Rankings Senior Report” rated Kansas 24th in overall health for seniors and Missouri 38th.

The report looked at 35 measures of senior health in categories including behavior, community and environment, policy, clinical care and health outcomes.

Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that Missouri had levied its largest fine ever for insurance law violations against two Aetna companies.

Nixon said Aetna Life Insurance Co. and Aetna Health Insurance Co. had agreed to pay $4.5 million for violating a 2010 state law that requires insurers to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders.

If Aetna complies with the settlement agreement, $1.5 million of the fine will be suspended, a news release from Nixon’s office said.

A state audit of Jackson County Circuit Court finds continuing weaknesses in its accounting controls and gives it only a “fair” rating.

The report by the office of Missouri State Auditor Nicole R. Galloway comes three years after the court’s administrator was found to have bought nearly $78,000 worth of personal items with a court purchasing card. The administrator, Teresa York, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Although the new court administrator has set up additional internal controls, the audit found persistent problems. It pointed to unbalanced ledgers and $6 million in investments that didn’t comply with state law and the court’s own investment guidelines.

A Johnson County jury rejected the claim that the Kansas City area’s biggest radiology practice violated state antitrust laws but ordered it to pay $718,500 to a prominent radiologist whom it terminated.

The jury deliberated for more than 10 hours before reaching its verdict Friday night after a trial that lasted two weeks.

The University of Kansas Hospital

Dr. William Reed and his wife Mary have donated $1 million toward completion of an addition to The University of Kansas Hospital, KU announced on Friday.  

Reed is chairman of the hospital’s cardiovascular diseases department and helped re-establish its heart transplant program in 2012 with a $1.5 million donation. The addition, the Cambridge North Tower, is under construction just northeast of the hospital complex in Kansas City, Kan.

Chris Potter / Flickr--CC

A Jackson County jury has ordered a debt collection agency to cough up nearly $83 million to a woman it mistakenly pursued to collect a credit card debt of little more than $1,000.

The jury found that Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC, one of the biggest debt buyers in the country, had acted maliciously in suing the woman, Maria Guadalupe Mejia, when the actual holder of the debt was a man with a similar-sounding name.

Rachel a.k. / Flickr--CC

A Missouri inmate who says he was denied parole because, as an atheist, he refused to participate in faith-based substance abuse programs has lost Round 2 of his fight against prison authorities.

Randall Jackson, who was convicted of offenses related to driving while intoxicated, claims prison officials unlawfully conditioned his parole on his attendance in Alcoholics Anonymous, which requires participants to recognize and rely on a “higher power.”

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Health authorities say another nine people have tested positive for tuberculosis after 218 individuals were tested for the infection at Olathe Northwest High School on May 5.

All 218 had been tested previously but were retested due to their potential exposure during the second semester, the authorities said. No additional rounds of testing are planned.

A student came down with the disease in March. More than 300 people were tested shortly afterward and 27 tested positive. Another four tested positive in April.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Anthony Davis says he fancied himself a tough guy. So when he started exhibiting signs of odd behavior, like never opening the curtains in his house or always driving his convertible with the top down, he ignored them.

It was only after he went to jail for drunk driving, his wife left him and he lost his business that he understood he was in denial.   

Eventually he was diagnosed with clinical depression.

A closely watched antitrust case pitting a prominent Kansas City area radiologist against the area’s biggest radiology practice got underway Monday in Johnson County District Court.

Mark E. Idstrom alleges Alliance Radiology terminated him without cause in February 2012 and, because of the exclusive contracts it negotiated with area hospitals, prevented him from obtaining employment since then.

A former overseer of Leavenworth’s wastewater treatment plant says solid waste was dumped by the truckload onto the ground behind the plant and eventually washed into the Missouri River.

The incendiary allegation was contained in a whistleblower lawsuit unsealed Monday. The suit was filed in federal court in October by Michele Coffman, a former assistant superintendent of the plant who resigned in October 2013.

Chris Potter / StockMonkeys.com

Doctors in Kansas City rake in more money from pharmaceutical companies than physicians in any other U.S. city, according to a survey by BetterDoctor.com.

The San Francisco-based company, a web and mobile-based physician search service, found that Kansas City doctors were paid an average of $2,945 by drug makers, the most in the nation.

Tyler, Texas, physicians were just behind, at $2,679, while Dallas doctors took in the next biggest amount – although, at $1,574, they were paid little more than half the KC average. No. 8 were Columbia, Missouri, physicians, who received average payments of nearly $841.

Laura Spencer

Chris Selby reads his work at poetry slams, where he goes by the name TOASTER — he says that’s slang for “awkward and old-fashioned.”

He’s seen several people close to him deal with the challenges of cancer, and he wrote this poem after the breakup of a toxic relationship a friend diagnosed as “emotional cancer.”

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

A federal appeals court has upheld the convictions and sentences of three men found guilty of torching the landmark Hereford House restaurant in October 2008.

The 8th U.S. Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected the claims of restaurant co-owner Rodney J. Anderson and his two co-defendants, Vincent Pisciotta, and Mark A. Sorrentino.

In September 2013, a federal judge sentenced Anderson, a well-known civic leader, to 15 years in prison. Pisciotta received a 20-year sentence and Sorrentino a 15-year sentence.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas health authorities say four additional people have tested positive for tuberculosis out of 70 tested last week at Olathe Northwest High School. 

The tests were conducted after a student came down with the infection last month. More than 300 people were tested shortly afterward and 27 tested positive for the disease.

The latest tests were done after officials found additional people who may have had contact with the student.

Being infected isn’t the same as having the disease, whose symptoms include fever, night sweats, coughing and weight loss.

Chris Potter / StockMonkeys.com

Missouri claimed nearly $35 million in unallowable Medicaid reimbursements after failing to comply with requirements under Medicaid’s drug rebate program, an audit released Tuesday found.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia cover prescription drugs under the program, which helps offset the costs of outpatient prescription drugs for Medicaid patients.

Updated, 4:27 p.m.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt has the right to intervene in two cases challenging Missouri’s execution protocol.

Flynt had sought to unseal judicial records in the cases, but a federal judge found that Flynt’s “generalized interest” did not justify intervention.

In reversing that decision, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the judge applied the wrong legal standard.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Seft Hunter became chief operating officer last year of Communities Creating Opportunity, a faith-based organization that addresses poverty-related issues. As part of its campaign to promote health access and equity, CCO, working with the REACH Healthcare Foundation and other groups, has been mapping medical “hot spots” in the metropolitan area in an effort to better manage residents’ chronic conditions, improve access to health care and reduce emergency room visits.

When it comes to standard measures of health, Kansas is a laggard. Whether we’re talking about obesity rates, incidence of diabetes, acute or chronic diseases, or childhood mortality, the Sunflower State typically ranks in the bottom half of state health rankings – and in recent years it’s been sinking even lower.

That’s bad enough. But there are vast disparities within the state itself. Averages only give a rough-and-ready sense of the state’s overall health picture; dig deeper – down to the county level – and you’ll find that some counties actually perform quite well while others perform poorly.

Noah Jeppson / Flickr--CC

Thousands of Missouri residents who may have been exposed to asbestos in the Jackson County Courthouse over more than three decades will now get their day in court.

The Missouri Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a lower court’s decision declining to certify a class consisting of Missourians who worked at the courthouse during and after the courthouse’s renovation in 1983 and 1984.

Blue Bell Creamery

The foodborne listeria outbreak that sickened five patients and contributed to the deaths of three at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis in Wichita was traced to a production line at Blue Bell Creameries' ice cream plant in Brenham, Texas.

Kansas health officials say that they initially matched the listeria found in two patients at Via Christi with listeria found in an ice cream product food sample in South Carolina. Around the same time, Texas health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had traced the South Carolina listeria to the plant in Brenham.

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