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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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.

Bigstock

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.”

A police perimeter on 77th Terrace near Troost surrounds a house linked to the suspected Baton Rouge shooter.
Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Update July 18, 1:34 p.m.

 

Kansas City, Missouri, police say the man arrested Sunday afternoon at the house on 77th Terrace linked to the Gavin Eugene Long was picked up on a "minor warrant."

Kamerran Fryer was arrested for a seat belt violation and was released on a signature bond, according to statement from police.

Three reporters said they were met at the door by Fryer while he was holding a long gun.

Federal agents and police searched his home for several hours.

Julie Jordan Scott Flickr -- CC

 A decades-old grocery store in northeast Kansas City, Kansas, is closing, delivering a blow to a part of town that’s already short on healthy food options.

The Price Chopper at 43rd and State Avenue, which has operated under different names for more than 30 years, will shutter on Sunday.

The closing came as a surprise to city officials.

Creative Commons-Flickr / H. Michael Karshis

On Tuesday, a state board adopted a regulation proposed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office allowing thousands of Kansas voters whose registrations were suspended to vote in federal elections but not in state and local races.

Courtesy photo - Storycorps

This story was updated on Tuesday to add remarks by U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs. 

Scott Wright, a federal judge in Kansas City for 35 years, died today. He was 93.

Wright was nominated to the federal bench in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. He was chief judge from 1985 to 1990 and took senior status in 1991, but continued to handle a full caseload until ill health forced him to step down a couple of years ago.

Carolina Hidalgo / St. Louis Public Radio

The four Republican candidates for Missouri governor kicked off their debate Wednesday night with a variety of statements about the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. KCUR fact-checked some of those statements. Here’s what we found:

Catherine Hanaway:

“Obamacare has failed in every regard. We were told it was going to reduce premiums. On average, premiums went up for the exchange in Missouri over 23 percent last year.”

Missouri Department of Insurance

Starting in 2018, Missouri will no longer be the only state in the country barred from collecting information on health insurance rates.

Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday signed legislation requiring health insurers to file proposed rates with the Missouri Department of Insurance and the department to determine if they’re reasonable or not.

If the department finds them to be unreasonable because they’re excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory, the law authorizes it to disclose that to the public, which can then comment on the proposed rates.

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

A federal judge blocked Kansas’ effort to cut off two regional Planned Parenthood affiliates’ Medicaid funding, ruling the move likely violates federal law.

In a 54-page decision handed down late Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson granted a preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (now known as Planned Parenthood Great Plains) and by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

University of Kansas Hospital

This story was updated at 5:24 p.m. to include KU Hospital's statement. 

An explosive lawsuit filed by a University of Kansas Hospital pathologist charges that the head of the hospital’s pathology department wrongly diagnosed a patient with cancer and then covered up the mistake after an organ of the patient was removed.

Wikimedia -- Creative Commons

Kansas City-area hospitals vary greatly when it comes to the percentage of their doctors who accept money from drug and medical device companies.

The hospital with the highest percentage is Providence Medical Center, where nearly 89 percent of its doctors took such payments in 2014, the last year for which data are available. The hospital with the lowest percentage is Truman Medical Center Lakewood, where only 43.8 percent of its physicians took payments from those industries in 2014.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Physicians associated with Kansas and Missouri hospitals received about $46 million in payments from drug and medical device companies in 2014, with about 9 percent going to providers in the Kansas City area.

Hiku2 / Wikimedia--CC

Updated: 11:58 a.m.

Missouri’s highly restrictive abortion laws are certain to face a court challenge now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down similar restrictions in Texas.

The high court on Monday, by a 5-3 vote, ruled that a 2013 Texas law placed an undue burden on women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion under the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas has “reconsidered” its decision to terminate the participation of 11 Planned Parenthood physicians and other medical providers in the state’s Medicaid program, although it’s still trying to cut off Planned Parenthood itself.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

In 2014, opioid abuse accounted for more than 28,000 deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Missourians accounted for more than 1,000 of those deaths, according to Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, and last week a bill negotiated by Blunt and approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee hiked federal funding to combat opioid abuse to $261 million, a 93 percent increase over last year’s amount.  

Rotary Club of Nagpur / Flickr-CC

Starting tonight and for an entire week, the Glenwood Arts theater is screening the documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” which was withdrawn from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York earlier this year amid an uproar over its thesis: that there’s a link between the mandatory measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, and that health authorities have conspired to cover it up.

Dan Margolies / KCUR

Amid continued uproar over the issue of rape on college campuses, the father of a University of Kansas student who says she was sexually assaulted by a KU football player accused the university of caring more for its athletes than “the success of women on campus.”

At an emotional news conference with his attorneys Thursday, Jim McClure said that just as damaging as the alleged assault of his daughter, Sarah McClure, “is the way she was treated by (KU) following the assault, where they did everything in their power to dismiss her and try to make it go away.”

Elana Gordon / KCUR

A federal judge on Tuesday promised to rule before July 7 on Planned Parenthood’s request to block the Kansas Department of Health and Environment from cutting off its Medicaid funding.

That’s the date when the agency has said it will terminate Planned Parenthood’s participation in the Medicaid program.

The original cutoff date was May 10, but KDHE has extended that deadline twice, in part because it has had trouble finding counsel to represent it.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

A pregnant woman who was shackled, chained and transported from the Jackson County jail to a facility 192 miles away while bleeding, vomiting and experiencing contractions has settled her lawsuit against the county.

Jackson County has agreed to pay Megon Riedel $50,000 in damages and to implement policies and procedures addressing its use of restraints and transportation for pregnant inmates and pretrial detainees, said ACLU attorney Gillian R. Wilcox, who represented Riedel.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

At Truman Medical Center’s nursing home facility in eastern Jackson County, Missouri, Dr. John Dedon drops by to chat with one of his patients, a spritely 82-year-old woman who’s lived there for the last four years.

“I’m just stopping by to say hi and see how you’re doing today,” he says, taking a seat next to her in the facility’s bustling hallway. “How are you feeling? Are people treating you O.K.?”

Dedon is probing not just for physical symptoms but looking for changes in his patient’s mood and affect. 

AP Pool Photo
AP Pool Photo

The Kansas Supreme Court has handed down its decision in the long-awaited Gannon school funding case, and it comes as no surprise to those who have followed its many twists and turns.   

“This case requires us to determine whether the State has met its burden to show that recent legislation brings the State's K-12 public school funding system into compliance with Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution,” the court wrote in an opinion not attributable to any individual judge. “We hold it has not.”

Joe Gratz / Creative Commons-Flickr

A Kansas appeals court has upheld a jury award to the estate and parents of a 40-year-old man who took his life after a botched medical procedure left him with overwhelming spinal injuries.

The $2.88 million judgment in 2014 was the largest jury award in a Johnson County medical malpractice case in more than 25 years, according to local attorneys.  

Courtesy U.S. Department of Justice

While giving him two more weeks to comply, a federal judge let Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach know that she would brook no further delays in carrying out her order to restore 18,000 Kansas residents to the voter rolls.

In a harshly worded order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson rejected Kobach’s claim that compliance with the court’s May 17 order would cause voter confusion and lead to “irreparable harm.”

Kobach did not return a call seeking comment.

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri says it’s merging with its central Oklahoma counterpart and will be renamed Planned Parenthood Great Plains effective July 1.

The combined affiliates will operate nine clinics in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma and will be headquartered in Kansas City, according to a news release from PPKM.  

Jessica Hill / AP

Missouri became the first state to go on record opposing a proposed merger of insurance giants Humana and Aetna, saying the combination would create an anticompetitive market in the state for various lines of insurance.

A ruling late Tuesday by the Missouri Department of Insurance gives the two companies 30 days to address the department’s concerns. Otherwise, it said it would block them from offering individual, small-group and group Medicare Advantage plans in Missouri if the merger goes through.

Chilli Head / Flickr--CC

A far-reaching software piracy scheme has led to the indictment in Kansas City of former NBA player Kermit Washington, who is accused of using a charity he founded to defraud donors, eBay, PayPal and the IRS.

The indictment was unsealed this morning. Washington was arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles and is set to make a court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer on June 16.

Kathleen Masterson / NPR

This story was updated at 5:22 p.m.   

Thanks to an unusual feature of class action law, the Midwest Innocence Project and Legal Aid of Western Missouri have received nearly $659,000 apiece in leftover proceeds from a consumer fraud case.

The money represents the single largest donation in the roughly 15-year history of Midwest Innocence Project (MIP), a Kansas City-based nonprofit that works to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners and whose total operating budget last year was $550,000.

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