Dan Margolies

Health Editor

Dan Margolies is editor in charge of health news at KCUR.  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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More than 389,000 Kansans and nearly 2 million Missourians were affected by last month’s massive cyberattack on Anthem Inc., the nation’s second largest health insurer, figures released by the company show.

“This data breach is so far-reaching that it impacts nearly one-third of our state’s population,” Missouri Department of Insurance Director John M. Huff said in a statement Monday.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided more details Friday about a new virus that may have contributed to the death of an eastern Kansas resident late last spring.

The Bourbon virus is named after the county where the man, who was in his 50s, received multiple tick bites while working on his property. Several days later he developed nausea, weakness and diarrhea. Eleven days after he was bitten, he suffered multiple organ failure and died of cardiac arrest.

University of Missouri-Kansas City

Truman Medical Centers will have access to a treasure trove of health data as part of an unusual three-way collaboration with Cerner Corp. and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The project, announced Wednesday, will allow Truman to draw on medical information amassed by Cerner over the last 15 years from more than 47 million patients. The data is scrubbed of personal identifying information.

HHS.gov

Sylvia Matthews Burwell succeeded former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in June 2014. Before that she was Director of the Office of Management and Budget. She has also served as president of the Walmart Foundation and of the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

St. Joseph Medical Center

 

The owner of St. Joseph Medical Center and St. Mary’s Medical Center has agreed to set aside $20 million from its pending sale of those hospitals for charitable care.

In a news release Wednesday, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said that non-profit Ascension Health agreed to the set-aside after concerns raised by his office that the money be made available for acute indigent care.

HCA Midwest Health has agreed to pay the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City $15 million to settle part of a long-running dispute with the foundation over HCA’s charitable obligations.

The agreement is the latest development in a lawsuit filed in 2009 by the foundation, which was created from the proceeds of the sale of Health Midwest to HCA in 2003.

The lawsuit concerns whether HCA met its contractual obligations following its purchase of Health Midwest to provide at least $653 million in charity and uncompensated care over 10 years.  

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Democrat Kansas Sen. David Haley from Wyandotte County provides an insider perspective on the historic 2015 legislative session underway in Topeka. 

Heartland Health Editor, Dan Margolies, fills in for host Sam Zeff.

(Disclaimer: We apologize for any clicks in the audio file. Our recording equipment has been experiencing some technical difficulties.)

Guests:

  • David Haley, Senator for the 4th District, Kansas Legislature
  • Ron Newton, citizen voice
  • Jim McLean​, Executive Editor, KHI News Service

An Oklahoma City-based hospice with offices in Kansas City, Mo., and in Kansas will pay $4 million to settle allegations that it improperly admitted patients to increase its Medicare reimbursements.

Good Shepherd Hospice Inc. and four affiliates agreed to the settlement with the federal government on Friday. The government had intervened in a False Claims Act case originally brought by two whistleblowers, both former employees of Good Shepherd.

Steven Depolo / Flickr--CC

With measles making a comeback in the United States after it was thought to have been eradicated 15 years ago, a new analysis finds that fewer than 90 percent of preschoolers nationwide have received the recommended vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella.

Both Kansas and Missouri fell below the 90 percent threshold for preschooler vaccinations, the baseline goal set by Healthy People 2020, a federal interagency task force.

Todd Feeback / Hale Center for Journalism at KCPT

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was in town Thursday as part of a “listening tour,” meeting with community leaders, physicians and others to discuss public health concerns. Among the topics they addressed were childhood obesity, violence, prescription drug abuse and access to health care. Murthy, a Harvard-trained physician, was confirmed as the nation’s top public health official in December after the position had been vacant for more than a year. He met with reporters this morning. Here are excerpts from his remarks:

Immunization

Bigstock

Even as prospects appear bleak for Medicaid expansion in Missouri, a new report says the state would save $81 million right off the bat and $100 million annually later on if it expands the program.

The report by the Missouri Budget Project, a nonpartisan think tank in St. Louis, says the savings would come from money the state currently spends on Medicaid services provided to pregnant women, mental health patients and prisoners in need of medical care.

Humana Insurance has agreed to pay a $161,800 fine for misleading policyholders, the Missouri Department of Insurance said Tuesday.

It’s the second time in less than a year that the department has slapped Humana with a penalty.

The latest fine stems from notices Humana sent to 1,618 policyholders, according to the department. The notices stated that, due to Missouri legislation, Humana was required to terminate their policies on Dec. 31, 2013, and replace them with new ones with 2014 benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

There is no such Missouri legislation.

Dan Margolies / KCUR

 

A local skin-care products company may have lost a bit of its luster.

Kansas City-based DERMAdoctor Inc. and its owner on Monday settled a complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission over allegedly deceptive claims made by the company.

The FTC charged that DERMAdoctor Inc. and its principal, dermatologist Audrey Kunin, made misleading claims about DERMAdoctor’s anti-aging and body-slimming products.

At least half of Kansans and Missourians who signed up for 2015 health insurance through the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces are new consumers, data released Tuesday show.

Of the 102,087 Missourians who chose a marketplace plan from Nov. 15 through Dec. 15, 50 percent are new and 50 percent have reenrolled, according to the figures from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Of the 39,023 Kansans who enrolled in the same period, 53 percent are new and 47 percent have reenrolled.

An incendiary lawsuit over the business practices of one of the companies running KanCare, the Brownback administration’s privatization of Kansas’ $3 billion Medicaid program, just got more explosive.

The company, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc., responded forcefully Monday to a lawsuit accusing it of unethical behavior, saying the plaintiff – an executive who was fired – was trying to extort it.

Saint Luke's Health System

 

An op-ed piece on the addictive nature of sugar that ran in The New York Times Tuesday and shot to the top of the newspaper’s “Most Emailed” list early Wednesday was co-written by Kansas City research scientist James J. DiNicolantonio.

DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research specialist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. According to his bio on Saint Luke’s Health System’s website, the 2010 graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy is the author or co-author of more than 100 medical publications.

And oh, he’s all of 28 years old.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Eleven Kansas City-area hospitals have been hit with penalties for hospital-acquired infections and other complications that Medicare deems avoidable.

The hospitals’ Medicare payments will be docked by 1 percent in the fiscal year that runs from October 2014 through September 2015.

A grand jury's recent decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., has thrown a spotlight on the legal institution of the grand jury:

What’s the prosecutor’s role in grand jury proceedings? Who brings the charges? What are the standards of proof?

Creative Commons-Wikimedia

States continue to spend a miniscule portion of the billions of dollars they collect annually in tobacco revenues on smoking prevention and cessation programs, according to a new report by six leading health organizations.  

Missouri spent $76,314 on tobacco prevention in the latest fiscal year, the report says. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended it should have spent nearly $73 million.

Only one state, New Jersey, spent a smaller percentage of its tobacco funds on anti-smoking programs. New Jersey allocated no funds for tobacco prevention.  

Alan C. / Creative Commons-Flickr

 

The American Civil Liberties Union has broadened its lawsuit over Kansas’ ban on same-sex marriage, seeking to enforce inheritance, driver's license and health insurance rights on behalf of same-sex couples.

The original lawsuit was filed in October by two lesbian couples and sought a ruling that Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The amended complaint seeks to require state officials to recognize the marriages of couples who were wed in other states as well as in Kansas.  

A federal judge in Missouri has declined to lift the hold on his judgment striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas Hospital announced this afternoon that civic leader Annette Bloch will contribute $10 million toward a $279 million expansion to accommodate the hospital’s fastest growing specialties.

The 92-bed addition, which was announced earlier this year, will be located north of the hospital on the northeast corner of 39th and Cambridge streets in Kansas City, Kan. It will house surgical oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, and ear, nose & throat services.

Bloch structured the donation in the form of a challenge grant that must be matched by June 2016.

Two Kansas City-area companies that challenged the Affordable Care Act’s so-called contraception mandate won’t be required to cover birth control as part of their employees’ health care plans.

Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, Senior U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith on Wednesday barred federal officials from enforcing the requirement against Randy Reed Automotive Inc. and Sioux Chief Manufacturing Co.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR

Updated at 2:34 p.m.

At least six of Kansas' 105 counties issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Thursday, a day after  the U.S. Supreme Court let take effect an order overturning  a ban state officials had feverishly hoped to keep in place.

Flickr, Creative Commons

  Updated 2:51 p.m. Nov. 25

The whirlwind of gay marriage decisions in Missouri and Kansas has left same-sex couples, court watchers and even reporters a bit breathless.

In an effort to keep us all up-to-date with these quick-moving issues, KCUR has pieced together this timeline, which highlights significant legal developments in both Missouri and Kansas in the state and federal courts. The list is not exhaustive but represents our best attempt to make sense of the rush of events while offering a look back at some of our coverage.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Updated, 5:10 p.m. Friday:

The Jackson County Recorder of Deeds began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday afternoon after a federal judge in Kansas City struck down Missouri's same-sex marriage ban.

Jackson County officials had told couples seeking marriage licenses they would have to wait because the judge's order had been stayed. But  Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders directed the Recorder of Deeds office to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples Friday afternoon.

Kansans voted to retain two Kansas Supreme Court justices under fire for their decision to overturn the death sentences of two brothers in one of the most notorious murder cases in the state’s history.

The two, Justice Eric S. Rosen and Justice Lee A. Johnson, were appointed to the court by former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Kansas Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor but stand for retention by voters at the end of their six-year terms.

CJ Janovy / KCUR

A federal judge today struck down Kansas’ law and constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, ruling they violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and handing a major victory to same-sex marriage proponents.

Only three Kansas City area hospitals received grades of A in the latest hospital safety report card issued by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group founded by large employers that aims to improve hospital quality and safety.

The three — Belton Regional Medical Center, Research Medical Center and Shawnee Mission Medical Center — were among 19 area hospitals surveyed by Leapfrog. Five of the hospitals received grades of B and the rest got C’s.

A lawsuit alleging that one of the for-profit companies running KanCare ordered employees to shift KanCare members away from high-cost providers has put a renewed spotlight on the program, one of the Brownback administration’s signature achievements.

In the lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., a former official of the company, Sunflower State Health Plan Inc., claimed she was fired after she objected to the directive, saying it was unethical and possibly illegal.

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