By Sam Baker and Elise Viebeck - 05/23/12 10:30 PM EDT
The Hill has the latest developments from the Senate.
'Choice' advocates down … : The number of Americans who identify themselves as "pro-choice" fell to a new low of 41 percent in May, according to the latest Gallup figures on the question. The finding caps a trend in progress since the mid-1990s, when abortion-rights supporters enjoyed a wide lead that had all but disappeared by 2009, when the "pro-life" position first achieved a majority. The figures represent a marked swing toward the right since July 2011, when the question split respondents 47 percent to 47.
… But birth control widely favored: Another Gallup survey, meanwhile, found that 89 percent of American adults say birth control is "morally acceptable." Eighty-two percent of Catholic adults agreed — a figure that did not go unnoticed by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who said in a statement that the poll "reiterates birth control is not a moral issue — it is simply basic health care." The poll comes as a rising number of religious groups file suit over the Obama administration's birth-control coverage mandate.
Blue Shield CEO to resign: The longtime head of Blue Shield of California, Bruce Bodaken, will retire by the end of the year, reports said. Enrollment doubled and revenue tripled for the company under Bodaken's leadership, the San Francisco Business Times reported. He told the paper that his decision was motivated in part by the national timeline for healthcare reform and knowing that his successor will need time to prepare for the changes the law will impose in 2014.
Bodaken has been under fire since 2011, when his $4.6 million salary was first disclosed under California law. He also oversaw big rate hikes for Blue Shield policyholders that drew scorn Wednesday from the Consumer Watchdog Campaign, which claimed a victory in Bodaken's resignation. "It’s a good time for health insurance CEOs who don’t want sunlight on their operations and prices to retire," the group's president, Jamie Court, wrote in an email to supporters.
Gym, laundry, but no tan: Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.Y.) will visit the Jersey Shore Thursday to publicize the risks of tanning beds and excessive sun exposure. The event, to take place on a boardwalk in Long Branch, N.J., will feature talks from a dermatologist, a skin cancer survivor and the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer. Pallone, the ranking member of a congressional health subcommittee, has taken an interest in the issue before — releasing a study in February with several other House Democrats that slammed the indoor tanning industry for providing "fall and misleading health information" to consumers, including many teens.
Read more from Healthwatch.
State by state
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is not giving up on a court fight over his proposed cuts to state health programs, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Virginia is at risk of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act for failing to release discharge-ready mental health patients from state hospitals, The Washington Times reports.
Medical marijuana could be on the ballot in North Dakota come November, The Bismarck Tribune reports.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill to "require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to promulgate regulations regarding the authorship, content, format, and dissemination of Patient Medication Information to ensure patients receive consistent and high-quality information about their prescription medications and are aware of the potential risks and benefits of prescription medications."
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) introduced a bill to "prohibit wholesalers from purchasing prescription drugs from pharmacies, and to enhance information and transparency regarding drug wholesalers engaged in interstate commerce."
For many families, insurance is picking up less than it used to, according to NPR.
Malpractice verdicts tend to favor doctors, a new study found. Reuters has more.
Debate is still raging over the best way to screen for prostate cancer, Kaiser Health News reports.
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