Harvard Law School's oldest policy journal.

Category: Featured Items

A Clear Solution for Health Care Costs

Posted on October 30th, by smorrison in Featured Items, Student Commentary. No Comments

by Nino Monea, Class of 2017

The market for health care is an economist’s nightmare. Many of the market forces that would militate against rising prices in other industries simply do not exist for the health care market in the United States. Sudden injuries and illnesses create demand uncertainty by preventing consumers from planning in advance when they will purchase care. Third-party payers distort incentives to reduce costs.[1] But perhaps most vexing of all, the true cost of most medical services are obscured, leading to dramatic markups in prices.[2] Anecdotes of overpriced products are widely available. $50 disposable gloves.[3] $500 IV bags.[4] $1,000 toothbrushes.[5] The list goes on and on. All of them are examples of patients, ignorant of the price of a good or service until after it has been charged, who are unable to discern the actual value of their care.

Of course, these are just isolated examples; we may also look to more systematic variations in costs caused by pricing failures. Costs vary widely not just between products, but also between regions. The average cost of a Medicare enrollee in Miami, the most expensive city, verses Honolulu, the least expensive, was $16,000 and $5,300. One might assume that this … Read More »

Liar, Liar…Possible Changes Ahead for Lie Detection Legislation

Posted on August 11th, by smorrison in Featured Items, Student Commentary. No Comments

By Jenna Tynan, Class of 2016

Most of us experience the distinct pleasure of completing a job application at some point in our lives. One can expect standard questions including name, address, and employment history. Depending on the state, employers may or may not ask questions related to an applicant’s gender orientation, marital status, or criminal history. But how does an employer know if you lie? Recently, I discovered the most curious statement on a Massachusetts-based application: It is unlawful to administer lie detector tests to job applicants. Interestingly enough, Massachusetts law requires that all employment applications display these notifications. An employer who administers an illegal lie detector test faces fines up to $1,000 for initial violations and even imprisonment for subsequent violations. These penalties also apply to employers that fail to provide notice statements on their applications.

Many states actually have similar “lie detector” laws limiting employers’ use of polygraphs and other examinations to test current and prospective employee honesty. These state laws are extensions of the federal Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), which also prohibits private employers from administering lie detector tests. But state laws can differ drastically from the EPPA. First, the EPPA prohibits only physiological-based lie detecting tests. … Read More »

Cash for College? House Committee Advances Tax Breaks for Students

Posted on July 16th, by smorrison in Featured Items, Student Commentary. No Comments

With students long gone on summer break, the House Committee on Ways and Means recently advanced legislation by a vote of 22-13 that combines several of the existing tax incentives for higher education into one unified tax credit.  Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Danny K. Davis (D-IL), who introduced The Student and Family Tax Simplification Act of 2014 (H.R. 3393) last October, said in opening remarks to the June markup that a streamlined credit for higher education costs would better serve families coping with the rising cost of post-secondary education.

The Committee bill is likely just an election year talking point rather than a realistic effort at reform. Yet it does provide a preview of what’s ahead in 2017 when Congress will have to make a decision on the future of tax incentives for higher education.

The short Act—totaling only 14 pages—combines three current tax incentives, the American Opportunity Credit (AOTC), the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the tuition deduction, into a single AOTC. The new incentive would provide a dollar-for-dollar (100 percent) credit for the first $2,000 of qualified higher education costs and a 25-percent credit for qualified costs above $2,000. The Act caps the new AOTC at $2,500 and makes the credit refundable up to … Read More »

Volume 51, No. 1 Available Online

Posted on March 26th, by smorrison in Featured Items. No Comments

Volume 51, No. 1 of the Harvard Journal on Legislation, featuring articles by Congressman Clyburn (D-SC), Professors Alejandro E. Camacho of UC-Irvine Law School and Professor Robert L. Glicksman of George Washington University School of Law, Joseph Henchman and Christopher L. Stephens  of the Tax Foundation, and Professor Linda Sugin of Fordham Law School, was published on March 12th and is now available on the JOL website!

2014 Symposium Recap

Posted on March 14th, by smorrison in Featured Items, Student Commentary, Symposium. No Comments

Over lunch on February 11 and 12, the Harvard Law School Journal on Legislation hosted its annual symposium. This year’s topic, Drug Policy: Reality and Reform, proved timely and engaging to members of the Harvard Law community. Welcoming a standing-room-only audience to hear from some of the field’s leading experts and authorities, JOL succeeded in creating a meaningful dialogue around a topic seeped in critical statutory and policy implications.

The first panel opened with brief remarks from Jeffrey Miron, a Senior Lecturer on Economics at Harvard University who is known for his economic insights on the war on drugs and other related topics. The discussion, moderated by Harvard Law professor and former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Phillip Heymann, jumped immediately to brief historical accounts of the drug war, focusing specifically on an aspect which all panelists had dealt with in their careers: mandatory minimums. The perspectives ranged from academic theory to first-hand accounts from a former judge and the state director of a national non-profit organization working on the topic.

Former federal judge for the District of Massachusetts Nancy Gertner and John Pfaff, Associate Professor of Law at Fordham Law School, opened the conversation with detailed perspectives on the impact of mandatory … Read More »