[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/12/19/health.care/story.nelson.health.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Ben Nelson has reached an agreement with Democratic leaders on health care reform, senators say." width=300 height=169]
Dr. Sanjay Gupta | BIO
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
Last night I was up late covering the senate vote on health care for CNN. The number of e-mails I was receiving while discussing this on air was staggering. I realized that as much as we talked about cloture and reconciliation, most people who didn’t read the 2,000+ page bill (which is most everyone) really wanted to know what this bill means for them. They didn’t care as much about the compromise that was struck by Sen. Ben Nelson, which would obligate the federal government to pick up the Medicaid tab for his state of Nebraska into perpetuity. They are still not sure if a public option is a good thing or not, and they aren’t sure how the exchange would work for them. In short, there is a collision of politics and health care, and sometime the impact on individuals gets a little lost in the shuffle.
I want to use this blog as a platform to try and address some of your specific question and to also throw out some key information that may have flown under the radar. I will start with a number. 2014. This is the year most of the provisions of the bill would kick in under this version of reform. That’s right – four years away. Many people think health care reform in binary terms. One moment there is a vote, and the next moment you have it. Many wish it were that easy. It is true that children may benefit earlier in some areas, but for the vast majority of the more than 40 million uninsured, things aren’t going to change significantly for a few years. And, speaking of the more than 40 million uninsured, this bill won’t impact all of them, but instead roughly 31 million.
Tonight, we're keeping them honest on Capitol Hill. See what deals Democratic leaders made to get the Senate health care reform bill passed early this morning. It's your tax dollars. Plus, up close, the mysterious death of actress Brittany Murphy.
Want to know what else we're covering? Read EVENING BUZZ.
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Barbara Starr and Adam Levine
A new order from the general in charge of northern Iraq makes getting pregnant or impregnating a fellow soldier an offense punishable by court-martial.
The directive, part of a larger order restricting the behavior of the 22,000 soldiers under Gen. Anthony Cucolo's command, is meant to prevent losing soldiers at a time when troop strength is stretched thin, Cucolo explained in a statement sent to the troops under his command and provided to CNN.
"I need every soldier I've got, especially since we are facing a drawdown of forces during our mission," Cucolo wrote. "Anyone who leaves this fight earlier than the expected 12-month deployment creates a burden on their teammates. Anyone who leaves this fight early because they made a personal choice that changed their medical status - or contributes to doing that to another - is not in keeping with a key element of our ethos."
The Senate hopes to vote on its health care bill before Christmas
CNN’s Political Unit
Senate Democrats claimed a major victory this weekend after voting to end debate on their version of the health care bill.
The Senate is on track to hold a final vote on Christmas eve, but there's still a long way to go before a bill is on President Obama's desk.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about what's in the House and Senate health care bills and what's next.
Where does the health care debate stand?
The House passed its version of health care reform last month. The Senate, which follows different procedures than the House, is slated to vote on its version of the health care bill before Christmas.
Brittany Murphy, the bubbly, free-spirited actress who appeared in such films as "Clueless" and "8 Mile," died apparently of natural causes, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said.
Murphy, 32, was pronounced dead at 10:04 a.m. PT (1:04 p.m. ET) Sunday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, hospital spokeswoman Sally Stewart said.
An autopsy had not been scheduled as of Sunday night, but Capt. John Kades, a spokesman for the coroner's office, said there was no sign of foul play or trauma.
Tonight, we're tracking your money on Capitol Hill. It's buying votes for health care reform.
The Senate vote to end debate on a $871 billion bill took place early this morning, very early. 1 a.m. ET. The final tally was 60-40, straight-down party lines. All Republicans voted no. All Democrats and two independents, Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Bernie Sanders voted yes.
How did the Dems get those 60 votes? That's what we're looking into.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) had to reel in moderates like Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.
Nelson got a provision added to the bill that would let your tax dollars pay for any Medicaid expansion in his state of Nebraska. No other state has that benefit.
He's not the only senator who made a deal.
We'll tell you who else got something in the negotiations.
Back to Sen. Harry Reid, he said there's nothing wrong with the tactic. He sees it simply as politics.
"That's what legislation is all about. It's the art of compromise," Reid said.
Republicans fired back on the Senate floor.
"Make no mistake, if the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn't be forcing this vote in the dead of night, " Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said.
What do you think of the vote? Sound off below.
The bill faces a few procedural votes this week, with a final vote expected Christmas Eve. It's expected to win approval, again along party lines. Then the bill must be reconciled with a House version.
Tonight, we'll dig deeper into the two different versions and show you what's at stake for you and your family.
Also on our radar, the New Jersey father at the center of an international custody fight. David Goldman hopes to find out tomorrow if Brazil's Supreme Court will let him bring home his 9-year-old son Sean. We've been following this case since 2004, when Goldman's wife took Sean to Brazil and never returned. She filed for divorce, remarried and died last year giving birth to a daughter. Since then, Sean's been living with his stepfather in Brazil.
Tonight, you'll hear from David Goldman and the lawyer for the Sean's Brazilian family.
And, we're looking at a new order from the U.S. general in charge of northern Iraq that makes getting pregnant or impregnating a fellow soldier an offense punishable by court-martial.
"Anyone who leaves this fight earlier than the expected 12-month deployment creates a burden on their teammates. Anyone who leaves this fight early because they made a personal choice that changed their medical status - or contributes to doing that to another - is not in keeping with a key element of our ethos," Gen. Anthony Cucolo explained in a statement sent to the troops
Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN. See you then!
Senate Democrats claimed a major victory this weekend after voting to end the Republican filibuster on their version of the sweeping $871 billion health care bill. The 60-40 party line vote kept Senate Democrats on track to pass the bill on Christmas Eve.
As President Obama ramps up his efforts to overhaul the country's health-care system, these are the personalities on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue who will most likely determine whether he succeeds or fails