Today is the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. One of the legacies is the lingering existence of dry counties, especially across the South. The number is declining, in part due to the economics of not selling alcohol.
Lubbock County, Texas, has a lot of new options for dinner and drinks. “One of them is Johnny Carino’s. The Funky Door Bistro and Wine Restaurant,” Eddie McBride, president of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, can reel off a list.
With the exception of one retail strip Lubbock was dry for years. But that changed after a 2009 ballot initiative. Until the new law, McBride says restaurants were reluctant to move in.
“You see about a 6 percent increase in retail sales in the area when they switch from dry to wet,” says economist Ray Perryman, head of the Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm in Waco, Texas.
Towns that don’t offer alcohol can lose out on other sales as well, Perryman says. “If you go to an other area to go to liquor store and while you’re there you may stop and buy groceries, you may do some shopping at local stores, just because you’re out and you’re making a trip.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says states spend billions on excessive drinking. But Perryman says allconsumers have access to alcohol, so even those areas that ban drinking end up with alcohol-related bills for healthcare, crime and justice -- without getting any of the of benefits of selling the drinks.
As the Affordable Care Act unfolds, we’re following the city of Camden, N.J., to see how the new law impacts one community. This is the latest update from Camden.
Cooper University Hospital is expecting a huge wave of patients starting next month, as millions of consumers get health insurance, some for the first time. The question for hospital executives in Camden, and around the country, is how to manage this new population. For one, there is a chance this new patient population will exacerbate existing problems at Cooper.
Today, "the patient no-show rate is in high 20s, 25, 30 percent," says Jonathan Vogan, the associate director for financial and performance measurement at Cooper’s outpatient clinic, the Urban Health Institute.
The Urban Health Institute serves more than 8,000 patients, virtually all of them low-income. Vogan says the poorer the patients, the more likely they'll miss their appointments. And that's an expensive problem. But Vogan says the solution is simple.
"If not all of your patients show up then the easiest thing to do is, well, just book more of them," he says.
In the next year, 9 million new people are expected to sign up for Medicaid as part of the new health law. Still, convincing doctors at Cooper to act like airline executives -- and just book more customers -- hasn't been easy.
'There was a little pushback based on the concern of 'what if all these patients show up?'” says Dr. Phillip Dellinger, Medical Director at Cooper. Dellinger says physicians had to be sold on what Cooper administrators call "smart booking."
"By far the best way to get physicians to change their behavior -- you need to show them data on what they are doing," he says.
When about a quarter of patients miss appointments? That is some persuasive data. For now, "smart booking" seems to be working at Cooper. UHI executive director Kathy Stillo expects to cut losses from no shows by 10 percent this year.
"Our goal is to lose less and ultimately to at least break even," says Stillo. "But what we need to do now is apply business thinking to solve the problems with how you deliver care to patients."
Of course, overbooking has its downsides. (Just ask any frequent flier.)
"The biggest threat is poor service that customers, or patients, are constantly having long waits imposed on them," says Northwestern Martin Lariviere.
For now, the clinic is willing to risk that. Long term, Stillo says the goal is to identify patients who don't show up and figure out how to get them to the doctor.
Yale University is out with a study this week that finds many of the elements on the periodic table that help power everything from smart phones to flat screen televisions are irreplaceable, which could pose problems for the tech industry.
Devices like tablets -- even cars -- are powered by a complex web of metals that are totally unique in their functions.
Barbara Reck, a research scientist at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and co-author of the study, says that means elements can’t be substituted.
“Let’s take flat screen displays for TVs or on the smartphones," Reck says. "For each of the different colors you need a specific element. There’s no other (way) to get a beautiful, really nice red except that you have europium, which is one of the rare earth metals.”
If there’s a shortage in one or several of these elements, it could pose problems for manufacturers, she says.
“If there’s an issue, the answers may not be as straightforward as one may think by just taking another metal," Reck says.
The more tech products, the more demand for these metals.
And for now, says Gareth Hatch, principal of Technology Metals Research, "there’s no substitute for new production or accessing new material that comes out of the ground.”
Hatch says more needs to be done to recycle and conserve the metals already being used. Which means one day, your old broken cell phone might actually be worth something.
At least 20 people were killed in the violence, in which a gun battle followed a large explosion in Sanaa. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but several analysts have noted that it resembles the operations of al-Qaida.