Healthcare Price Transparency in a Privately Insured United States: Is Patient Ignorance Bliss?

(Source) It is no secret that the United States is the only industrialized nation without a single-payer universal healthcare program. Among the many issues created by the high cost of healthcare, both parties agree that unexpected, and often extremely expensive, medical bills present a serious threat to financial security in a nation where around two-thirds of individuals declare bankruptcy due to an inability to afford medical care. Despite both parties agreeing that surprise medical bills are a pressing issue, there is little agreement concerning what an appropriate solution might look like. On June 24, 2019, the Trump administration issued an executive order requiring hospitals to make negotiated pricing information accessible to the public. In November 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services, in complying with the order, created a “final rule” requiring all hospitals in the nation to publish the prices of certain procedures on their websites. The American Hospital Administration (“AHA”) and several other hospital networks subsequently filed a lawsuit challenging the administration’s authority to impose such a requirement. The AHA asserted that the rules imposed by this executive order would require more administrative positions to organize and deliver the requested pricing data, an increased cost that ultimately [read more]

New Jersey’s Half-Baked Ballot Initiative Prevents Meaningful Marijuana Reform

(Source) On Election Day, November 3, 2020, voters in four states, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in their states. These referendums, known as ballot initiatives, allow voters to participate in the state’s policymaking process by inviting them to vote on a proposed law. Prior to the 2020 election, nine states and D.C. legalized recreational marijuana through this method. Some ballot questions contained very general language concerning taxation and regulation. Now, eight years after the first successful legalization efforts in Washington and Colorado, the political conversation has evolved beyond rudimentary concerns.  This past year, criminal justice was on the ballot nationwide, allowing voters to impact state and local policies.  Now, there is a broader dialogue about legalizing recreational marijuana as a means of social and criminal justice reform. Many advocates of marijuana reform hope to wield this democratic tool to ensure that it would protect those who have been or would be harmed by marijuana’s criminalization. In light of the many historic moments of 2020 that have shed light on racial disparities and injustice in the United States, it is appropriate to address these key concerns in the ballot initiatives. In Arizona, the approved ballot measure included [read more]

Whose Right Is It Anyway?: The Messy Intersection of Graffiti, Street Art, and Copyright Law

(Source) Unlike the drab billboards and miles of gray concrete known to punctuate urban landscapes, the splashes of color typical of murals and street art demand to be seen. Street art’s roots, however, are found in graffiti, a phenomenon where various structures are “tagged” with words, which has been viewed as a public nuisance and plays a symbolic role in the controversial broken windows theory of policing neighborhood blight and crime. Graffiti artists have gradually garnered a countercultural reputation for disrespecting private property rights since they see city structures as blank canvases. Los Angeles, for example, spends $7.5 million a year to eliminate graffiti, removing over thirty million square feet of it from over 600,000 spots in 2015. Authorship is typically accompanied by legal rights, but do ownership interests even exist for graffiti artists and can they enforce them?  Do they even want to? Cities generally criminalize graffiti as a form of vandalism, but whether an artist’s right to free expression can overcome this is less clear. Cities generally criminalize graffiti with various approaches: Los Angeles considers graffiti to be a nuisance, requiring owners to keep buildings free of graffiti while artists may face fines and imprisonment under the California [read more]

Privilege, Progress, and Paid Family Leave

(Source) The United States has an embarrassing—and for many families, financially, physically, and emotionally devastating—paid family leave problem. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks last in government-mandated paid leave for new parents. Among forty-one nations, the U.S. fails to mandate paid leave for new parents. Individual states have failed to pick up the slack. Currently, California, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, and Washington, D.C. are the only states which provide paid family leave to eligible workers. Washington and Washington D.C.’s programs began just last year. Two more states—Connecticut, and Oregon—have programs slated to begin in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Colorado voted this past November on Proposition 118 to determine whether the state would implement its own paid family and medical leave program. Even though Colorado’s Proposition 118 passed, only nine states (plus the District of Columbia) have made meaningful steps toward a paid family leave mandate. The need for government-mandated leave becomes evident with a quick look at private sector leave statistics. In 2019, 18% of private sector employees had access to paid family leave through their employer and 42% of private sector employees had access to fully or partly [read more]

Feeling Crunched: Labor Conditions in the Video Game Industry

(Source) As we react to another spike in the coronavirus pandemic, many people are wondering how our work lives will change in the distant future of a post-COVID-19 world. One hope is that employers will be more understanding of a work-life balance and reevaluate the eight-hour workday. However, we know that burnout is a real threat that not only impacts productivity levels, but also can lead to a decline in physical and mental health. One industry that is thriving during the pandemic has been grappling with a work culture of burnout and overworked employees for a while now: the video game industry. Americans spent $10.86 billion on video gaming in the first quarter of 2020, the highest total in U.S. history. While people have been using video games to socialize and to experience nature in health-safe ways, the video game industry has been struggling with many of the same logistical hurdles in production as other industries, leading to conditions that feel familiar to many a video game developer: crunch. Crunch, also called “crunch time” or “crunch mode,” was first coined to describe intense periods where software programmers would work extra hours for extended periods of time to meet deadlines or [read more]

Exporting Miranda: How Fifth Amendment Protections Fall Flat in Overseas Interrogations

(Source) In the past twenty years, American law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have increased their presence abroad. This increased presence is due in part to terrorist attacks against American targets and narcotics trafficking that affects U.S. citizens. Law enforcement’s role overseas is to investigate violations of American criminal laws committed by non-U.S. citizens. An integral component of the investigation process includes interrogating suspects. In the United States, any interrogated suspect is constitutionally protected by the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. However, does this same right apply to non-citizens abroad? Per circuit courts’ understanding, the Fifth Amendment still applies in offshore interrogations. What is less clear is how this right must be given effect when interrogating non-citizens. Miranda v. Arizona and its Framework Domestically, the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination protects suspects during pretrial investigations. In the landmark case Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court held that prosecutors may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from the custodial interrogation of a detainee, unless the prosecution demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards. These safeguards ensure the privilege against self-incrimination. Miranda, therefore, mandates that before engaging a suspect in custodial interrogation, law enforcement officials must inform the suspect [read more]

Kamala Harris Should Let John Roberts Off The Hook

(Sources) The Constitution provides that when the President of the United States is tried in the Senate, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, rather than the Vice President, presides over the President’s trial. This time last year, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, fulfilled his constitutional duty by presiding over Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial. The otherwise reserved Roberts made his uneventful political debut in the Senate, assuming a role he likely despised given the extent to which he has avoided entangling himself in the partisanship which has dominated his time on the Court. This time, however, Mr. Roberts may be off the hook. While some have already assumed that John Roberts will preside over Trump’s second trial, this conclusion is doubtful, and Mitch McConnell’s most recent memo on the upcoming trial flags this area of confusion. John Roberts, however, should not need to scurry from the Capitol steps over to the Senate chamber immediately after inaugurating Joe Biden on January 20th. While the Constitution designates the Chief Justice, rather than the Vice President, as the presiding officer when the President is tried, it says nothing about the trial of a former president. This makes sense [read more]

Work or Child Care: What Employers Can Do to Alleviate Burdens on Working Mothers

(Source) Facebook and Twitter have announced that they will allow their employees to work from home indefinitely, and other companies are considering adopting a similar policy. Remote work can benefit both employees and employers as employees no longer have to commute and employers can cut costs in rent. However, remote work can also be a source of issues. For example, it can exacerbate what is already an unequal distribution of domestic work on women. Prior to the stay-at-home orders in response to COVID-19, women consistently spent more hours on housework and child care than men. In addition, when women have children, they are less likely to be hired for jobs and likely to be paid less than their male colleagues. This is referred to as the motherhood penalty and exists not because mothers become less productive but because employers expect to them to be. The impact of COVID-19 on the distribution of domestic work isn’t clear, although one survey found that the distribution of housework and child care has not become more equitable as a result of stay-at-home orders. Additionally, McKinsey & Company released a report documenting the effects of COVID-19 on working women and found that one in four [read more]

Fashion (Law) Forward: An Interview with Professor Susan Scafidi

(Source) Fashion (Law) Forward: An Interview with Professor Susan Scafidi This podcast transcript has been edited for concision and clarity. Christina Lee Hello, my name is Christina Lee, and today I am happy to have you on The Issue Spotter Podcast. Today, our Online Associate Jamie Smith will be interviewing Professor Susan Scafidi, and we are super excited to welcome both of them to the podcast. So, thank you so much and looking forward to hearing this.   Jamie Smith Thanks, Christina. And hello, Professor Scafidi, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m so glad we can finally meet each other. For those who don’t know you, I’d like to give a brief introduction before we get into what I’m sure will be a scintillating discussion. Professor Susan Scafidi is the founder and academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School. As the first professor to offer a course on fashion law, Professor Scafidi is an internationally recognized expert in the field. A frequent commentator on fashion and fashion law, Professor Scafidi has been featured in publications from The New York Times to Women’s Wear Daily and NPR. Professor Scafidi’s advocacy work ranges from support [read more]

Virtual Recruitment: The U.S. Military’s Campaign into Twitch and Esports

(Source)   Twitch.tv is a live-streaming platform that has exploded in popularity over the last several years. The platform, focusing primarily on broadcasting live video game content, attracts the curious eyes of over seventeen million visitors each day, and has been cementing itself as the de facto “king” of live video game streaming over the last half decade. In 2020 thus far, viewers have spent over 950 billion minutes watching content on Twitch. Of its immense viewing congregation, fourteen percent are between the ages of thirteen and seventeen, making Twitch a particularly valuable resource for those looking to market to Gen Z. Coincidentally, after missing recruitment goals in 2018, the Army turned to Twitch in advertising and recruiting efforts aimed at teens. As part of its Gen-Z-centered campaign, the Army has been leveraging esports to reach the substantial centennial population on Twitch. To their credit, this campaign has certainly borne fruit; the Army’s push to use esports in recruiting has generated over 13,000 recruiting leads so far this year. This success has caught the eye of several prominent U.S. military branches, including the Air Force and Navy, who have also begun to establish a presence on Twitch and in esports. [read more]
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