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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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.

Both top KU coaches, David Beaty (left) and Bill Self, have LLCs that reduce the amount they owe in Kansas income taxes.
KCUR 89.3/CC

Among the nearly 334,000 Kansas businesses that owe no state income taxes thanks to the Brownback administration’s 2012 tax cuts is one called BCLT II, LLC.

BCLT II happens to be owned by Bill Self, the legendary University of Kansas men’s basketball head coach.

Under his 2012 contract with KU, Self pulls down a salary of $230,000 a year. But that’s just a small part of his compensation.

File photo

This story was updated at 3:20 p.m.

Another class-action lawsuit alleging Cerner illegally failed to pay employees overtime wages has been filed against the health care technology company.

The latest was filed in federal court in Kansas City on behalf of so-called AMS delivery consultants at Cerner, basically help desk workers who offer technical support and troubleshooting assistance.

Joe Gratz
Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 11:39 a.m.

Battling on two legal fronts, the regional affiliate of Planned Parenthood scored a court victory in Missouri and secured an additional delay in a threatened cutoff of its Medicaid funds in Kansas.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled that Missouri’s attempt to revoke the abortion license of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri, violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

Hannah Copeland / Heartland Health Monitor

Last week was a busy one for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

First, Kansas health officials informed the organization they were ending its Medicaid funding.

Then Planned Parenthood fired back with a lawsuit calling the action illegal and politically motivated.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

A court hearing in a lawsuit seeking to overturn Kansas’ cutoff of Medicaid funds to two Planned Parenthood affiliates has been canceled at the state’s request.

The hearing, originally scheduled for this morning, was to take up Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order blocking the state’s action.

Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, the lead plaintiff in the case, said the state had asked that the hearing be postponed after it retained an outside law firm and agreed to temporarily suspend its decision.

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

The two Planned Parenthood organizations in Kansas and Missouri wasted little time challenging Kansas’ termination of their Medicaid funding.

Just a day after the Kansas Department of Health and Environment notified them of its decision to cut off their Medicaid payments,  Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region sued the head of the agency, Susan Mosier.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

This story was updated at 9:29 a.m. and at 2:33 p.m. 

Just two weeks after the Obama administration warned states that ending Medicaid funding of Planned Parenthood may run afoul of federal law, Kansas on Tuesday terminated the Medicaid contract of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Eleven states, including Missouri, have now cut off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood. Courts in four states have blocked those moves.

Creative Commons-Pixabay

A company looking to develop three fast-food chain restaurants in Kansas City, Kansas, hopes to tap a newly created economic development fund created recently by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas.

Wyandotte County, of course, is the same area that consistently shows up at or near the bottom of surveys ranking health outcomes. Unified Government leaders have launched a variety of ambitious initiatives to reverse those metrics, so the question of whether they should help fund the fast-food proposal is of more than economic interest.

Creative Commons-Flickr

Universal UClick, the Kansas City-based syndicator, says it has confirmed some of the allegations of plagiarism against the editor of its Universal Crossword feature following an internal investigation.

In a statement last month, it said the editor, Timothy Parker, will take a three-month leave of absence during which he “will confirm that his process for constructing puzzles uses the best available technology to ensure that everything he edits is original.”

Health Care Cost Institute

Kansas City-area residents needing a knee replacement might find it worthwhile to drive to St. Louis.

That’s because the average price of the procedure in the KC area is $26,601. In the St. Louis area, it’s $23,114 – a $3,487 difference.

On the other hand, the average cost of an ultrasound in metro St. Louis is $375. That compares with $271 in metro Kansas City, a $74 difference.

Courtesy Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care

Elaine McIntosh, president and CEO of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care, says she’s stepping down after 24 years at the helm of the area’s largest nonprofit hospice organization.

McIntosh, 66, will stay on until a successor is found. The hospice’s board has formed a committee to lead a national search.

McIntosh said in a telephone interview that she was leaving the organization in “very strong shape” and decided now was an opportune time to leave.

Courtesy HCA Midwest Health

HCA Midwest Health, which operates seven hospitals in metropolitan Kansas City, says it will invest $93 million in three of the hospitals.

In a news release Wednesday, the company says it plans to put $59 million into Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, $23 million in Research Medical Center in Kansas City and $11 million in Lee’s Summit Medical Center.

The money will be used for additional beds, emergency room expansion and other infrastructure improvements.

rolandojones / Flickr-CC

This story was updated at 1:58 p.m. to include the comments of a KU spokeswoman.

A second University of Kansas student has sued the university after she says she was sexually assaulted by the same football player who allegedly raped a former student who sued KU last month.

Eschipul / Creative Commons-Flickr

A Jackson County judge has thrown out an incendiary lawsuit alleging that the owner of the Power & Light District discriminated against black patrons and ginned up disturbances as a pretext to eject them from its bars and restaurants.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Joel P. Fahnestock last week granted motions for summary judgment filed by The Cordish Companies of Baltimore and other defendants, ruling that plaintiff Glenn E. Cusimano had failed to substantiate his claims.

Susie Fagan / Heartland Health Monitor

Representatives of 15 groups that advocate for Kansas Medicaid populations sent a letter to state leaders this week urging them to eliminate a Medicaid application backlog that has left thousands of Kansans awaiting coverage.

The groups have formed a coalition called the KanCare Advocates Network. They represent children, pregnant women and Kansans who are elderly or disabled.

Kansans from those populations have been waiting months, in some cases, for their Medicaid applications to process.

File photo

Opponents of efforts to legalize marijuana in Missouri said states that have done so have seen spikes in crime, heightened risks of drug addiction and harmful effects on children.

“Legalization of marijuana for recreational or even so-called ‘medicinal’ uses makes communities less safe, and Missouri should not head down that dangerous path,” Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Mark Schierbecker / Wikipedia--CC

Former University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin will not take on a role with the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation, the partnership formed by MU and Cerner Corp. to digitize the university’s sprawling health system and reduce its health care costs.

The Columbia Missourian, quoting an MU spokesman, reported that Cerner did not concur with Loftin’s role “and the position turned out not to be feasible, so Dr. Loftin did not assume a position with the Tiger Institute.”

Jennifer Morrow / Creative Commons-Flickr

This story was updated at 3:39 p.m.

The Kansas Supreme Court has agreed to review an appeals court decision finding that the Kansas Constitution creates “a fundamental right to abortion.”

The decision by the high court was expected after the Kansas Court of Appeals, in an evenly divided vote, upheld a trial judge’s decision to block a Kansas law banning the second-trimester abortion method known as “dilation and evacuation.”

The Health Inequality Project

A new study drawing on a massive trove of data confirms long-held notions that when it comes to life expectancy, income matters: The richest American men live 15 years longer than the poorest men and the richest American women live 10 years longer than the poorest women.

Creative Commons-Wikimedia

Despite a federal law that bars negligence claims against gun dealers, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled today that the mother of a schizophrenic woman who bought a gun and used it to kill her father can sue the pawnshop that sold her the gun.

Although it said Janet Delana’s negligence claim was barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), the court said the law did not bar her “negligent entrustment” claim against Odessa Gun & Pawn.

The court sent the case back to the trial court, which had granted summary judgment to the pawnshop.

Elana Gordon / KCUR

Cerner Corp. employees who claim the health care information giant improperly calculated their overtime payments overcame a legal hurdle this week, allowing their two-year-old lawsuit to move ahead.  

A federal judge conditionally certified the workers as a class, grouping them together  after finding that they were “similarly situated” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). That will allow them to proceed collectively, increasing the possibility of a large damage award if the case goes to trial.

Courtesy photo

Kansas is one of 10 judicial districts nationwide selected to form units to crack down on nursing homes providing “grossly substandard” care, the Justice Department announced on Wednesday.

The Elder Justice Task Forces will unite prosecutors, law enforcement and agencies serving the elderly in a coordinated effort to go after nursing homes that fail to meet federal health and safety standards.

Two sham cancer charities that allegedly scammed nearly $76 million from consumers will be dissolved, their president banned from charity fundraising and their assets liquidated in a settlement announced today with all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Federal Trade Commission.

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