Dan Margolies | KCUR

Dan Margolies

Health and Legal Affairs Editor

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… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.

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This week's closure of Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville, Missouri, caps a year of worse financial troubles than were previously known.

Over the last year, the hospital has been sued by vendors for nonpayment, by the Missouri Division of Employment Security for failing to pay into the state’s unemployment insurance program and, most recently, by employees for failing to pay their health insurance premiums.

“There’s considerably more to this story than what’s currently in the public domain,” said an attorney for the employees, North Kansas City lawyer Blake Green.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

The debate over immigration has been dominated by the Trump administration’s hardline policies. Meanwhile, there are immigrant communities in the Kansas City area whose stories often go unheard amid the surrounding noise.

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Pinnacle Regional Hospital in Boonville, Missouri, says it has voluntarily closed the facility, including its rural health clinic, outpatient clinic and emergency department.

In a terse “To whom it may concern” letter, Pinnacle CEO Joseph Conigliaro said the hospital had decided the “economic hardship” of complying with recent demands by Missouri health regulators was “too great to make the appropriate repairs necessary.”

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A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Missouri’s religious exemption form for vaccinations.

Senior U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs on Friday dismissed the case brought on behalf of a student at the Crossroads Academy.

The student, identified as W.B., and his parents, Zach and Audrey Baker, objected to language in the Missouri form encouraging parents to immunize their children and warning of the adverse public health risks of failing to vaccinate.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

For the second time in two years, Planned Parenthood is challenging Missouri’s denial of its claims for Medicaid payments.

The first time Missouri cut off the organization’s Medicaid funding was in fiscal 2019, after the legislature enacted an appropriations bill denying it reimbursement under the program.

Now Planned Parenthood’s Overland Park affiliates are challenging the state’s cutoff of their fiscal 2020 funding. An administrative law judge ruled against them last month and Planned Parenthood wants a Jackson County judge to overturn the ruling.

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The Shawnee Mission School District and four district officials have  agreed to pay $165,000 to resolve a lawsuit alleging school officials failed to take action against a middle school student accused of sexually assaulting another student.

The district and officials agreed to the settlement in September but the amount was not disclosed until Monday, when U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree approved the settlement.

Chris Neal

The KCUR news staff presents the State of Kansas City series as a look ahead to 2020 on topics of importance to the region. Find the State of Kansas City report on other topics in the series as they are published each weekday, Jan. 6–Jan. 20. Follow coverage on these topics at KCUR.org and on 89.3 FM throughout the year.

Health care — who gets it, who doesn’t, and how we pay for it — will command as much attention in Missouri and Kansas politics this year as on the national scene.

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Missouri health regulators have told a Boonville, Missouri, hospital that specializes in bariatric surgery and is affiliated with a similar privately owned hospital in Overland Park, Kansas, to discontinue performing surgery.

The directive was issued last month, after the regulators conducted an inspection at Pinnacle Regional Hospital and cited it for sterile processing procedures.

Health Forward Foundation

The Health Forward Foundation, which distributes more than $20 million in grants annually, has named Qiana Thomason as its new president and CEO.

Thomason succeeds Bridget McCandless, who announced a year ago that she would be stepping down after six years as leader of the organization.

Formerly known as the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, the foundation changed its name 14 months ago to better reflect its forward-looking focus on mental health, safety-net institutions and fostering healthier communities.

Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3

A board member under fire for allegedly swindling an Indian tribe in Oklahoma. The organization’s $3 million Kansas City headquarters, bought and renovated just a few years ago, up for sale. The founder stepping away from day-to-day control. A CEO abruptly leaving after only a few months at the helm.

That’s the state of the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the world’s largest organization dedicated to promoting barbeque, which appears to be in turmoil more than three decades after its founding in 1986.

Barbara Shelly / KCUR 89.3

Cancer survivors and their loved ones who attend meetings of the Prostate Network in Kansas City have talked for years about a radiation treatment called proton beam therapy.

They know it’s expensive and controversial. Some doctors and healthcare experts say it’s no more effective than standard X-ray radiation, and costs twice as much. But some of the network’s own members have used proton therapy and swear by the results.

Courtesy Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

The heirs of famed Kansas City artist Thomas Hart Benton are suing UMB Bank, claiming it mismanaged his estate, failed to track and maximize the value of his artwork, lost track of more than 100 irreplaceable pieces of art and impermissibly used his art to promote the bank.

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For the second time in four months, Truman Medical Centers has suffered a data breach, this one involving more than 114,000 patients.

The Kansas City safety net hospital informed the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights that the cause of the breach was a laptop theft on Dec. 5.

Leslie Carto, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said the work-issued laptop was stolen from an employee’s vehicle.

The computer was password-protected, Carto said, and “there’s no evidence that any unauthorized party accessed, viewed or misused the information.”

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A church whose request to operate a temporary homeless shelter was opposed by the city of Lenexa will be able to do so after all.

Under a settlement reached on Friday, Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church will be allowed to use its building, a former elementary school, to house up to 30 homeless adults overnight from Dec. 13 through April 1 and for the next three years.

Courtesy Wilson Vance

A roach- and mold-infested apartment complex in Kansas City, Kansas, is under new management after a judge appointed a receiver to run it.

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After nearly 18 years, the families of five patients who died under mysterious circumstances at a Chillicothe, Missouri, hospital have reached the end of the road.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled their lawsuits accusing the hospital of fraudulently concealing the true cause of their loved ones’ deaths were filed too late.

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Eighty-two veterans who were sexually abused by a former physician assistant at the VA hospital in Leavenworth have settled their lawsuits against the government for nearly $7 million.

The physician assistant, Mark Wisner, was convicted in 2017 of aggravated sexual battery and aggravated criminal sodomy and sentenced to 15 years and seven months in prison.

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A global company that opened an office in Lee’s Summit a year and a half ago to much fanfare is shutting down its roadside assistance operation, affecting 82 positions.

ExlService.com notified Missouri economic development officials last week that it will cease the operation effective Jan. 31 and would lay off 31 Exl employees. Another 51 employees of two recruiting firms, Allied Global Services and Aerotek Inc., that contracted with Exl will also lose their jobs, but those workers will be reassigned.  

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An Overland Park company that services Sprint credit cards is laying off 99 employees, according to a notification filed with the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Home Credit US, which is located on the Sprint campus in Overland Park, began in 2015 as a joint venture with Sprint. The company is part of Home Credit Group, a consumer finance and credit card servicing company that was founded in 1997 in the Czech Republic.

File photo by Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A 19th century maritime law does not apply to claims arising from a deadly duck boat disaster in Branson, Missouri, a federal judge has ruled.

The decision is in some sense academic, because the operator of the duck boat, Ripley Entertainment, has settled all but one of the 33 claims filed against it. But it means that Ripley won’t be able to limit the damages in the remaining case. It also means that cases against other possible defendants won’t be limited.

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A Lenexa church is suing the city for denying its request to use its building as a temporary homeless shelter.

Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church says the denial infringes on its exercise of religion, violating the Constitution, state law and federal law.  

The church, at 9400 Pflumm Road, occupies a former elementary school building adjoining commercial and office properties, although the building is zoned residential single family.

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A federal judge has rejected a Kansas City charter school student's claim that Missouri's official religious exemption form for vaccines is an unconstitutional infringement of religious freedom. 

The child, identified as W.B., and his parents, Zach and Audrey Baker, sued the Crossroads Academy and Missouri’s health agency, the Department of Health and Senior Services, over the language in the official form.

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A Columbia, Missouri, man faces at least 5 years in prison after admitting he torched the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia in February.

Wesley Brian Kaster, 42, pleaded guilty on Thursday to maliciously using explosive materials to damage a building owned by an organization that receives federal funding and to violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

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Immigrants and U.S.-born Latinos account for more than a third of residents without health insurance in the Kansas City area’s three largest counties.

That’s one of the findings in a study about the fastest growing segment of the local workforce, commissioned by the Reach Healthcare Foundation.

U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board

MGP Ingredients Inc., a leading producer of distilled spirits and specialty proteins and starches, has agreed to pay a fine of $1 million in connection with a toxic chemical release at its plant in Atchison, Kansas, three years ago.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

The two operators of about a dozen well-known Kansas City restaurants sought bankruptcy protection within days of one another, with both saying the restaurants will remain open for business.

On Saturday, Bread & Butter Concepts LLC, which owns and operates Gram & Dun on the Country Club Plaza, Urban Table in Prairie Village and the Stock Hill steak restaurant just south of the Plaza, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Kansas. And on Thursday, HRI Holding Corp., which owns Leawood-based Houlihan’s Restaurants Inc., a casual dining chain, filed for Chapter 11 in Delaware.

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The parent company of The Kansas City Star plans to eliminate the Saturday print editions of its 30 newspapers by the end of next year.

The McClatchy Company, the second largest newspaper chain in the country, previously announced plans to eliminate Saturday print editions in 12 of its markets, including Wichita. The Wichita Eagle notified subscribers last month that it would move to digital-only coverage on Saturdays after Nov. 16.

In a conference call with analysts on Wednesday, McClatchy President and CEO Craig Forman said the rest of the company’s newspapers will move to digital-only on Saturdays by 2020.

Samuel King / KCUR 89.3

Raytown’s city clerk “purposefully” violated the law when she spurned a request for public records related to a fatal traffic accident, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.

The decision has far-reaching implications for citizens' access to public documents covered by Missouri’s Sunshine Law.

The appeals court upheld a trial court's ruling that ordered the clerk, Teresa Henry, to pay $38,550 in attorney fees and a $4,000 civil penalty to the plaintiff in the case, Paula Wyrick.

University of Kansas Hospital

A patient who sued the University of Kansas Hospital for fraud and negligence, alleging she was misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the hospital covered it up, quietly settled her case last year on confidential terms.

Although the settlement was sealed, KCUR has learned that the Kansas agency that provides excess insurance coverage for medical providers — insurance over and above the providers’ primary coverage — agreed to pay out $1.8 million on behalf of the hospital and the doctor who made the misdiagnosis.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach agreed to legal sanctions to resolve a disciplinary complaint about his conduct in a voting rights case he lost last year.

As part of the resulting diversion agreement made public Monday, Kobach admitted that he did not properly supervise lawyers and others on his staff while contesting a lawsuit that challenged how he carried out a new voter ID law.

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