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…

Ways to Connect

David Slusky and Donna Ginther

The Affordable Care Act has been credited – and blamed – for lots of things, but lowering the divorce rate generally hasn’t been one of them.

Not until now, anyway. A paper co-authored by two KU economists suggests that states that expanded Medicaid saw fewer so-called medical divorces than states, like Kansas and Missouri, that didn’t expand Medicaid.

How so?

Used to be Medicaid had an asset limit. The program’s income eligibility requirements limited the maximum amount of assets and income individuals could possess.

File Photo

A decision by the Missouri Supreme Court Tuesday will allow Missouri to recover $50 million in withheld tobacco funds.

The 37-page ruling upheld a decision by a St. Louis Circuit Court judge that found an arbitration panel had exceeded its powers in withholding the money.

The complicated case deals with the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement agreement reached by 46 states, including Missouri, and four major cigarette manufacturers in 1998.

Bigstock

Missouri corrections officials are not required to disclose the identities of the pharmacists who supply the state’s lethal execution drugs, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Reversing a lower court judge who had ordered the Department of Corrections to reveal their names, the Missouri Court of Appeals found that the DOC did not violate the state’s Sunshine Law by refusing to provide them.

A torrent of civil lawsuits over alleged sexual abuse by a former employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Leavenworth is expected now that a federal judge has refused to dismiss one of the cases.

Three more lawsuits were filed this week in federal court, bringing the total to 15 so far, and dozens more are expected to be filed in coming months.

The suits by military veterans accuse Mark E. Wisner, a one-time physician’s assistant at the hospital who held himself out as a doctor, of sexually molesting them during physical exams.

cancer.gov / wikipedia--CC

Reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases in Kansas City, Missouri, rose last year, in some cases dramatically, in part due to increased testing and outreach by health authorities.

Preliminary data from the Kansas City Health Department shows a nearly 27 percent increase in reported cases of gonorrhea, 8 percent in chlamydia and 7.6 percent in syphilis.

The figures reflect national trends, with reported STDs reaching an unprecedented high in the United States in 2015.

Rachel A.K. / Creative Commons-Flickr

For the second time, a judge has dismissed a challenge to a Missouri prison policy that conditions early inmate release on participation in programs requiring belief in a deity.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. ruled that the plaintiff, one-time Missouri inmate Randall Jackson, did not meet the requirements for filing a class action and that, in any case, his claims were moot because he was released from prison in December 2014.

Courtesy HCA Midwest Health

The Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City has settled its long-running case against hospital giant HCA for $160 million.

The settlement comes after a state appeals court earlier this month reduced a trial court judgment in favor of the foundation from $434 million to $188 million.

Coupled with an earlier settlement in the case that netted the foundation $13.5 million, the foundation will end up getting about $173.5 million from HCA – bringing the foundation’s total assets to about $700 million.

www.law.umkc.edu

The longtime dean of UMKC School of Law has stepped down. 

Ellen Suni led the school for 13 years – among the longest-serving law school deans in the country. She was planning to step down at the end of this semester, but an unexpected hospitalization earlier this month led her to move that up.

Courtesy HCA Midwest Health

This story was updated at 2:41 to include comments from the Health Care Foundation and HCA.

An appeals court has cut by more than half the $434 million in damages awarded to the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City in its breach-of-contract lawsuit against hospital giant HCA.

Kansas doctors who mistakenly diagnose a case of child abuse are not liable for malpractice, a court has ruled.

In a case of first impression, the Kansas Court of Appeals found that the Kansas law requiring health providers to report suspected cases of physical, mental or emotional abuse of children protects physicians and other health providers from civil liability.

The case involved the parents of a nine-month-old girl who brought her to The University of Kansas Hospital for a respiratory infection.

Photo courtesy Hostess Brands

Kansas City-based Hostess Brands is voluntarily recalling its Holiday White Peppermint Hostess Twinkies due to a concern about possible salmonella contamination.

Although no illnesses have been reported and none of the affected products have tested positive for salmonella, Hostess says it’s initiating the recall “out of an abundance of caution.”

The confectionary coating used on the Twinkies was previously recalled by its maker, Valley Milk Products, prompting Hostess’ recall. No other Hostess products are affected by the recall.

Photo courtesy of Cornerstones of Care

Five Kansas City area agencies that provide treatment and support services for children and their families have merged.

The five – Gillis, Healthy Families, Marillac, Ozanam and Spofford – already operated under the Cornerstones of Care umbrella. The merger gives them one board of directors instead of five and allows them to consolidate their programs.

“We believe that as one organization we can deliver an even higher quality of consistent care,” says Denise Cross, president and CEO of Cornerstones of Care.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon today granted pardons to 18 individuals, including 16 clergy members and activists who were convicted of trespassing after they staged a protest in the Missouri Senate gallery over Missouri’s decision not to expand Medicaid.

The so-called Medicaid 23 – several of them well-known African-American ministers from Kansas City – refused to leave the gallery during their protest in May 2014 after they were ordered to do so by Capitol police.

Michael Coghlan / Creative Commons-Flickr

The Kansas Federal Public Defender says federal prosecutors have failed to turn over all attorney-client phone calls that were recorded at the pretrial detention center in Leavenworth to a special master looking into their legality.

In a court filing Wednesday, the public defender identified recorded calls to at least two attorneys that were not disclosed by prosecutors.

www.haysmed.com

Extending its growing reach in Kansas, The University of Kansas Hospital has finalized its agreement to partner with Hays Medical Center in the northwest part of the state.

In September, the two institutions signed a letter of intent to join forces, with HaysMed maintaining its name and separate ownership structure.

James Dobson / Garden City Telegram

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by a Garden City, Kansas, mother who lost custody of her son over her use of cannabis oil in an incident that drew national attention.

In a brief four-page order Tuesday, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten dismissed the action, finding that Shona Banda had failed to respond to the defendants’ “prima facie valid arguments.”

Banda, who represented herself, had sued the Garden City school district and one of its employees; the Garden City police department and its chief; the state of Kansas and Gov. Sam Brownback; and the Kansas Department for Children and Families and its secretary, Phyllis Gilmore.

Banda filed her lawsuit in March, exactly a year after Garden City police raided her home and seized marijuana, cannabis oil and drug-related equipment after her 11-year-old son spoke up about her use of cannabis at a school anti-drug presentation.

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

Dementia is an impairment of brain functions marked by memory loss and personality changes. It affects an estimated 4 million to 5 million adults in the United States annually and, as the elder population increases, is likely to have a growing impact in the future.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting as many as 5 million Americans in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is projected to rise to 14 million by 2050.

www.weisspaarz.com

The owner of a medical imaging company allegedly defrauded Medicare and Medicaid of more than $1.5 million, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Topeka.

Cody Lee West, 38, did business as C&S Imaging Inc., a mobile diagnostic testing facility based in Paragould, Arkansas. The facility provided ultrasound services to chiropractors and other medical providers in Kansas.

According to the complaint, West told chiropractors he would provide them with ultrasound equipment and a technician at no charge. The chiropractors would bill for the services.

Charlie Szymanski, Christine Chan, Matt Weber / Reuters

This story was updated at 2:39 with comments from a spokeswoman for the St. Joseph Health Department.

More than 15 percent of children tested in seven census tracts in St. Joseph, Missouri, had elevated lead levels, according to an investigation by Reuters.

That was more than triple Missouri’s average of 5 percent, Reuters reported.

Corbis / Flickr-CC

The Missouri Department of Corrections and its health care provider have systematically denied medical treatment for prisoners with Hepatitis C, a class-action lawsuit filed Thursday alleges.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Jefferson City, seeks relief on behalf of thousands of inmates. It says the defendants have withheld drug treatment from the inmates in violation of the Constitution’s Eighth and Fourteenth amendments and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Charlotte Cooper / womensenews.org

A new federal rule barring states from withholding federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood could prove to be a short-term victory for the organization.

Congressional Republicans have already put the rule on their hit list and it may not survive the first 100 days of a Donald Trump administration.

The rule, posted Wednesday on the website of the Federal Register, is slated to take effect Jan. 18, two days before Inauguration Day.

BigStock Images

Kansas is continuing to do business with a home health care agency that a few weeks ago agreed to settle a federal kickback case for $1.8 million.

State officials say that because the agency, Best Choice Home Health Care Agency Inc. in Kansas City, Kansas, did not admit liability as part of its settlement with the government, the state’s hands are tied.

Antioch Community Church

A years-long dispute over whether a Northland church that installed a digital sign violated Kansas City’s sign ordinance has ended in the church’s favor.

Antioch Community Church, which sits on a four-lane road between I-35 and Vivion Road, erected the sign in 2010 with an $11,426 bequest from a parishioner’s estate.

Unbeknown to the church, however, a Kansas City ordinance prohibited digital signs on church property in residential areas.

State of Kansas official portrait

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline is appealing a federal court’s dismissal of his lawsuit challenging the suspension of his law license by the Kansas Supreme Court three years ago.

Kline filed an electronic notice of appeal late Saturday to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Courtesy Brooke Schreier Ganz

Back in February, a nonprofit group called Reclaim the Records filed requests for Missouri birth and death listings from 1910 through 2015.

The California-based outfit describes itself as a “group of genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates who are filing Freedom of Information requests to get public data released back into the public domain.”

Matt Hodapp / Heartland Health Monitor

Missouri’s two Planned Parenthood affiliates on Wednesday morning sued to overturn the state’s highly restrictive abortion laws, a move expected since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down similar laws in Texas in June. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Jefferson City, sets up a showdown over state statutes that were enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which held that the right to an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy is rooted in the Constitution.

Courtesy Vicki Hiatt

The Johnson County Election Office went ahead with a vote recount sought by Kansas Senate candidate Vicki Hiatt even though she withdrew her request, citing irregularities and what she described as the office’s lack of transparency.

The election office said on Wednesday that the recount had left the outcome of the District 10 race unchanged. It said Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook defeated Hiatt, a Democrat, by the identical 952-vote margin reported earlier, with each candidate receiving one additional vote from paper ballots.

Bigstock

The Missouri Department of Corrections knowingly violated the state’s Sunshine Law when it refused to provide records about applicants who sought to witness Missouri executions, an appeals court ruled today.

The ACLU had sued to obtain the information to determine if the department was choosing witnesses impartially.

In response, the corrections department produced heavily redacted records, even though many witness applicants had agreed to produce the information.

Creative Commons-Wikimedia

This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

In a case likely to have nationwide repercussions, a Missouri gun dealer has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit alleging it negligently sold a gun to a schizophrenic woman who used it to kill her father.

“The $2.2 million settlement hits them in the pocketbook and makes clear to gun dealers across the country and their insurance companies that they need to act responsibly,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project.

Heartland Health Monitor file photo

Vicki Hiatt, who lost her bid to unseat Republican firebrand Mary Pilcher-Cook in the Kansas Senate by a mere 980 votes in the initial vote tally, has requested a recount.

Hiatt, a Democrat who ran for the District 10 seat, which includes parts of Johnson and Wyandotte counties, made the request in a letter today to Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker. The letter was prompted by election night tabulation problems in Johnson County that delayed the reporting of results until the next day.  

Pages