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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Health Care Bill Voted On

Aired December 21, 2009 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV) MAJORITY LEADER: Or about procedure and everyone knows we're here at 1:00 in the morning because of my friends on the other side of the aisle, for them to say with a straight face, I noticed some of them didn't have that straight face, that we're here because of us is without any foundation whatsoever. And everyone knows that.

This is not about politics; it's certainly not about polling. It's about people. It's about life and death in America. It's about human suffering, given the chance to relieve this suffering, we must. Citizen each of our state, have written to tell us they're broke because of our broken health care system. Some send letters with even worst news, news of grave illnesses, preventable death. For weeks we've heard proponents complain about the number of pages in this bill. But I prefer to think of the bill in terms of the people that it will help.

A woman named Lisa Olsaka, lives in Gardnerville, Nevada, beautiful city below the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She lives there with her two daughters, both of whom are in elementary school. The youngest suffers seizures; her teachers think she now has a learning disability.

Because of her family history, Lisa, the girl's mom is at a high risk of cervical cancer. Though she's supposed to get an exam every three months, she doesn't go. She's lucky she goes once a year and most of the time she's not very lucky. When Lisa lost her job, she lost her health coverage. Now both Lisa and her daughter missed the preventive medicine that could keep them healthy. Her long letter to me ended with a simple plea, and it was. We want to be able to go to a doctor. That's a direct quote from her.

That's why this bill will assure that all Americans get the preventive tests and screenings they need. I'm voting yes Mr. President because I believe that Lisa and her daughter deserve to be able to go to the doctor.

A teenager named Caleb Waltz is a high school student from Sparks, Nevada. Like so many kids, he used to play soccer when he was younger. Now he just sticks to skiing and rock climbing. You can forgive him; I'm sure, for giving up soccer, Mr. President.

You see, Caleb was born with legs that end above his knees. As children mature, even Caleb, they grow out of their clothes, most kids grow out of his shoes. Caleb doesn't. A lot of kids probably get a new pair every year but Caleb has needed a new pair of prosthetic legs, every year since he was five. Unfortunately, unbelievably Caleb's insurance company has decided, knows better than his doctor, has decided Caleb doesn't need those legs.

That's why this bill will make it illegal for insurance companies to use pre-existing conditions and excuse to take our money and not give you coverage. This is a big change but it is a good change. I'm voting yes because I believe Caleb deserves a set of prosthetics that fit.

Ken Hanson wrote to me from a Meskeet Nevada town on the boarder, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, his chronic heart problems and parts of his feet have been amputated. But Ken can't go to the doctor because he makes too much to qualify for Medicade. And too little to afford private insurance. I share with the Senate exactly what Ken wrote me.

"I'm very frustrated because it seems that my only hope is that I die very soon. I can't afford to stay alive. End of quote" That's why this bill will expand Medicade to cover people like Ken from Meskeet Nevada, who are caught in the middle. I'm voting yes because when someone tells me his only hope is to die, I think we need to take a close look at that. I can't look away. I cannot possibly do nothing.

A man by the name of Mike Tracy he lives in North Las Vegas, Nevada. His 26-year-old has been an insulin dependent diabetic since he was a baby. The insurance Mike's son gets through work won't cover his treatments. And the Tracys can't afford to buy more insurance on their own. But his family's troubles are more than just about money. Since they can't afford to treat their son's diabetes, it develop into a disease called Addison's Disease. Which of course they can't afford to treat either. This disease can be fatal.

This is what Mike wrote me just two weeks ago. Again I quote, "I don't know what to pray for first. That I will die before my son will so I don't have to bear the burden, or that I outlive him so I can provide support to his family when he's gone," end of quote. Quite a set of prayers, Mr. President.

This shouldn't be a choice any American should have to make. It shouldn't be a choice any father or mother would have to make. And when given a chance to help people just like Mike, our choice should be very easy. That's what the legislation is all about. These are hard-working citizens with heartbreaking stories. They are people that play by the rules and simply want their insurance company to also do the same.

They are not alone. These tragedies don't happen only to Nevadans. They don't happen only to people despite all their pain find time to write to their leaders in Congress. These tragic events happen to people on the east coast, the west coast, and everywhere in between. These tragedies happen to Americans in small towns and in big cities. These tragedies happen to citizens on the Left side of the political spectrum and the Right side.

As Mike Tracy wrote in his powerful letter about his son, again I quote, "Democrats need health care, Republicans need health care, Independents need health care, all Americans need health care. Get it done." End of quote, and he's right.

Every single senator, every one of us comes from a state where these injustices happen every single day. Every single senator represents hundreds, thousands of people who have to choose between paying an electricity bill or medical bill. Between filling a doctor's prescription for just, well, maybe just hoping for the best. Between their mother's chemotherapy treatment and their daughter's college tuition. As I mentioned earlier, on average, an American dies from lack of health insurance every ten minutes. That means in the short time I've been speaking, our broken system's claimed at least two lives.

Another American's died; two have died a preventable death, each of them. So as our citizens face heart rendering decisions, every day, tonight, every Senator has the choice to make as well. That choice: are you going to do all you can to overt the next preventable death, Mr. President, I hope.

I urgently -- I vote to stop this filibuster. Mr. President, I would advice my members that 1984 the Senate had opted a resolution as 480 to impose a requirement Senator's vote from their desks. I know that we don't do this all the time. But I would ask tonight that we do vote from our desks and follow the rule as RES. 480. Ask Senators to vote from their desks.

CHAIRMAN: The clerk will report the motion to invoke closure.

CLERK: We the undersigned Senators in accordance with revisions on rule 22 of the standing rules in the Senate, here by move to bring to a close the debate on the rate amendment number 3276 to the rate substitute amendment 20...

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: You just heard Senator Majority Party Leader Harry Reid making his case there. The ten minute speech before him the minority leader, Mitch McConnell also talking. Just proceeding what is a historic vote, no question this is the vote we've been talking about for a long time.

Let's bring back Dana Bash, as well as Dan Lothian as well. You know it's interesting, a lot of discussion obviously, you both heard those speeches, but Dan let me ask you something. One of the issues that Senator McConnell seem to have again was this idea that this is happening at night.

This is happening just four days before Christmas, what is the urgency right now? Right before Christmas, from your White House sources, why are you hanging about this deadline and how strictly is it being enforced?

DAN LOTHIAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well they really to believe that this is the best time to do it. And it really is all about capturing the momentum, to get this while they have the opportunity. We've been pointing out all night that several other presidents have tried to get this done. Seven other administrations have tried to get this done and have not been able to get this far.

So, they really, really want to jump on the momentum and get this done. And you know, yes, there is that criticism and you've heard there just two different views on what this bill will do.

Democrats believing that this is a bill that will save lives and Republicans saying that the whole bill is a mess. Not only the bill but the whole process. On the other hand you have a President here who really has a lot at stake. He really needs to get this health care reform through. It's his top domestic priority but ultimately, he doesn't have any Republicans on board which is something the President always wanted to have, bipartisan support.

GUPTA: And he really wanted to get this clearly done by the end of the year. This just being one of the votes of a few Dana that you've been telling us about throughout the week. They say it's going to wrap up before Christmas. You know, what are you hearing? It looks like they're voting now, is that right Dana, you're there, what is going on there?

DANA BASH, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, they are voting. And I think it's important to underscore the image that we are seeing, Harry Reid right before he stopped talking, he mentioned that he asked Senators to sit in their seats.

This is not something we see very often, Senators. Particularly the Senators in the majority who want to show the importance of a vote, they will ask Senators to sit in their seat just to symbolically show how, from the perspective of Democrats, historic, they believe this moment is. And that's why you see Senators voting from their chairs. Normally, they will be -- sort of milling around the well of the Senate. And you know, talking about -- talking amongst themselves. That is not happening right here.

One other thing that I wanted to point out that I just saw as you were talking to Dan, is that Robert Seebird, he is a 92-year-old Senator. He's just been wheeled in. He's been an ailing health and, you know, he along with the rest of the Senate, they have been working nonstop, late at night, early in the morning pretty much seven days a week.

So, he was just wheeled in there. And he will be one of the many, many critical votes that Democrats will have to rely on. In fact of course as we mentioned every single Democrat vote --

GUPTA: They need every one of them.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Dependence that they rely on. Yes.

GUPTA: That's right. You mentioned as well that Vicky Kennedy is there as well. I think you said in the chamber -- you know, couple of the speeches that we heard, they didn't evoke Ted Kennedy's name, former Senator Ted Kennedy. What is the significance of her being there? Who is she with? What does it all mean?

BASH: Vicky Kennedy is here to -- to carry the Kennedy torch. She is here to, I think you know just be there for the memory of her husband. She wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" over the weekend. Encouraging and urging Democrats to do this and not to squander this moment and that is something that is important to remember as we watch this vote.

Many of the times that people have evoked Ted Kennedy's name it has been to try to convince quarrelling Democrats divided Democrats, philosophically very different Democrats to come together right now because this is a moment that doesn't happen very often as we've been mentioning all night. It's been tried for decades and decades.

So, I think symbolically that is part of the reason why Vicky Kennedy wanted to be there in terms of the debate, and the vote, and also because of the memory of course of her husband.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In late shift here tonight, there's also some other members of the best political team on television our senior political analyst, David Gergen is with us up in Boston. Democratic strategist Donna Brazile is joining us on the phone. We were sort of hoping to get her tonight.

Donna, let me ask you a very simple question here, Mitch McConnell made a big point of how this was being done purely on partisan lines. I know you that that was a terrible thing; Harry Reid even mentioned the same thing, this notion of how it was broken on purely party lines. Would you feel better if Republicans were voting with this measure?

And the second part of that question is, why? If the Democrats believe this and the Republicans don't, why wouldn't the Democrats want to say it is holly ours, we are the ones that brought it to you, thank us.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST (on phone): Well, Tom first of all, I would be there with you but I'm one of those scardy cats that don't really do much in the snow here but let me say this, this is a historic vote a historic moment. The Democrats of course many Republicans who've been part of this process. I believe they've come up with a bill that will help not just provide insurance to those without it tonight.

But also, it will help lower the cost of insurance of those with health care. This is a very historic moment for the country. Not to look at this through the lenses of the partisan rank that has developed over the last couple of months. But to look at the details of the bill to ensure that Americans tonight will feel comfortable knowing that this legislation will not only save lives but save money but also help extend the life of the Medicare program that so many of our fellow citizens depend on.

So, I think it's an important moment to acknowledge all the good that's in the bill. And to, at least spend just few minutes to get away from the sausage making process that has really developed into one of the biggest partisan fights that we've seen this year.

As you know, the Democrats passed the (INAUDIBLE) bill without much Republican support. They passed protection for consumers with credit cards without much Republican support so they even pass the defense appropriation bill without much Republican support. So to, somehow single out this bill or this moment being more partisan than the other moments this year, I don't know if that true --

FOREMAN: But in simple terms Donna, let me interrupt you for one second, in simple terms though, would you like some Republicans on this with you?

BRAZILE: You know when it comes to diabetes, when it comes to all of the other chronic conditions in this country that preclude people from getting the kind of insurance that they need and Dr. Sanjay Gupta would know more about this than I do.

Yes, I would love those -- I would love the Republicans to be on board. But they're not. They're not. They are simply not going to participate and help them to move forward anything at this hour which has been all year. It's a disappointment, absolutely.

But the Democrats have accepted 160 amendments for the Republicans throughout the process. The Republicans had the last 20 days to offer amendments, they've only offered four. Two of the amendments dealt with protecting the insurance companies and the savings that they thought they needed --

FOREMAN: All right Donna I'm going to have to interrupt you there for a moment. And we're going to have to move --

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: The facts before criticizing the Democrats for moving forward on something that I believe -- (CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Hold on for just a moment here, Donna, I need to point out that Ben Nelson who was in -- in question for some time, they've just voted yes a moment ago. Joe Lieberman also voted yes a moment ago. Those are two of the votes that people were watching very closely here. And we'll try to keep you up to date on some of the other votes that came through.

I think I was just told a moment ago that somebody voted no, but I don't know what name that was, it sort of came by in a moment there. Oh and Olympia Snow voted no. She was one of the people who was questioning this whole thing. So, although she has made it pretty clear that that is what she was going to do.

David Gergen, I want to throw the same question to you very quickly as we're talking here, what's wrong with the Democrats simply saying, fine, you don't want to vote with us, this is entirely ours.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In my judgment, it's a tragedy for the country to have a bill this important, a stark piece of legislation passed with only one party voting for it. That is not happening, that's not been our history.

I mean, the time I was in the Clinton White House, President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton were pushing for health care reform. I remember so well, Pat Moine, he was one of my mentors in life. He's a wonderful Senator who called me in and said David, he even sent me all the literature on it.

Every time we pass major social legislation in this country, we pass it with super majority. With both parties, it's so important to building public confidence, just like Earl Warren when they had the Brown versus Board of Education. He wanted to make sure it was nine, nothing separating court. He spent lots and lots of time rounding up everybody...

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Dave, I'll interrupt you for one moment...

GERGEN: OK, sure.

FOREMAN: Just to say that when we talk about super majority, that's not what they have now. But they do in fact have the 60 votes that they were after to. In our exclusive coverage tonight we can tell you the Democrats have in fact reached the 60 votes. Let's listen for a moment.

CLERK: Three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative. The motion is agreed to.

FOREMAN: And there you have it, David Gergen, there's the 60 votes. I want you to pick up that thought that you were saying though. You were saying -- this is certainly a victory for the White House but in many ways it seems like the fisher in this country, between the Left and the Right, Conservatives and Liberals and Republicans and Democrats, I guess you could argue it even deeper tonight.

GERGEN: It has, and it's terribly unfortunate. Donna Brazile is right, this is an historic moment. Senate of the United States has never voted for universal access before. This vote tonight, the 60 now ensures that the universal access bill will pass the Senate. That's very, very important for them.

Having said that, we've now reached the point where a significant social legislation, to this tragic quality was expressed by Olympia Snowe there.

There are Republicans of course, theologically opposed to anything working with the Democrats but Olympia Snow was trying to work with the Republicans to have her tonight express severe disappointment at the way that this is unfolding here in these last days, severe disappointment that this is the first major social legislation that is passed in this country and more than half a century that has not enjoyed a vote from the other side, I think it's brought us to the place where we can say, historic legislation is about to be made. But it is a tragedy to me that it can't be done with more support from the other side. That this couldn't have been worked out in a more bipartisan way. I'm not sure -- the blame is pretty evenly divided here about who is responsible for that. But the fact is, the partisanship, the poisonous toxic atmosphere that exists on the Senate floor tonight in much Of Washington is not healthy for the country.

GUPTA: You're watching exclusive coverage of the Senate vote on health care. It's a quarter after the hour, quarter after one o'clock in the morning in Washington. We have 60 votes and this amendment has passed. The manager's amendment as it is called. The first in the series of votes. I want to bring back my colleague Dana Bash again.

You're there. First of all, what is happening now? So the vote is over, 60 Democrats voted yay and 40 Republicans voted no. What is happening now?

BASH: Well if you look on the Senate floor, you see a bunch of very tired but clearly very happy Democrats who are huddled there just below the clerk's desk. You see them hugging one another. You see the Democratic leader, Harry Reid talking to many of his colleagues there.

I mean this is something that -- that they have fought for and worked on day and night, literally day and night for the past month straight I would say and fairly happy. I can tell you, from firsthand experience, absolutely exhausted.

And what happens from here specifically after tonight or this morning? There will be another series of votes to finalize this bill. The hurdle has been crossed, if you will. They know that they have the 60 votes. They know that they have enough to ultimately pass this finally in the Senate. It's just a matter of how long it takes to get there.

And that likely won't happen Sanjay, until about Christmas Eve, the way that things are going here. It could be 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, when the Senate finalizes -- finalizes the health care bill.

GUPTA: I have a feeling you and I will be here -- talking about this again, even then on Christmas Eve. A lot more to talk about, we do want to dive a little bit into what remains over the next couple of days. And also I think importantly while this vote happen tonight, what does this mean for people watching. When will they start to see some of the ramifications of all that's happen?

That what we're talking about. Stay with us after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: We're covering this historic vote tonight by the Senate. They do have the 60 votes in they needed for closure to move the health care reform effort further forward. There's a big, big moment for Democrats. Certainly for this country, and they could argue for all of us indeed as it goes on. A big disappointment for Republicans.

We're joined by the best political team on television tonight. David Gergen, Dana Bash, Don Lothian, and Donna Brazile is with us by phone as well.

I want to turn to Donna because you had a thought a moment ago, and I want to pick up on that for just a moment if you would. David Gergen said that the lack of partisan cooperation on this reflects not only a deepening divide but also there was equal blame on both sides. Clearly Republicans want to say it's because Democrats would not work with them.

Clearly, Democrats want to blame it on the Republicans, put aside your partisan hat for a moment, and just give me your experience political analyst hat, is there blame on both sides about this and what is the consequence for the future of this bill as a result. I think Donna, I was asking her but I think we've lost her perhaps...

BRAZILE: Are you there Tom?

FOREMAN: Oh, I think we have Donna there. Are you there?

BRAZILE: Yes, I'm here.

FOREMAN: Yes, and did you hear the question, Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, yes I did, Tom. Let me just say this, I expected all along that the Democrats -- especially in the Senate, would try to make compromise with the Republicans on some of the over writing principles. Throughout the debate, especially when the debate shifted from the health committee. And one of the five committees that had over sighted this process, I thought Senator Baucus had made, you know, some real progress in bringing along Republicans.

They spent most of telling Republicans to try to encourage them to get on board. But the President reached out to Republicans. So that's why again, there are so many amendments in this bill that came as a result of trying to encourage Republicans to submit their alternatives, their ideas, their amendments, and at the end of the day, the vote tonight was about moving forward to ensure that this process would come to an end at some point.

So, yes, there's blame always especially in this highly toxic environment that David Gergen mentioned. But this is a moment to display leadership for our country and going back to what I said earlier, you know, we've had partisan votes on many other issues including the stemless plan that many economists continue to say has helped save our economy save from the verge.

But I think in going forward, this needs to be explained to the American people. They need to understand what's in it for them. How much it will cost the average person. How much it will save the average person. But tonight I'm rejoicing because this is a victory for many, many of our fellow citizens who have just simply don't have the money to afford their current plan or to even buy health insurance. And I'm thinking about them. I'm thinking about all of them.

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: All right, Donna...

BRAZILE: I understand that this is personal. And that's why so many Americans feel so strongly about this issue because it is personal.

FOREMAN: Well, let's jump from that thought that you just raised there. Because David Gergen, I know you need to go. I want to raise one last question with you on all this. Let's move forward and look forward on this.

For the average American out there who has been watching this for months and months and has been lost in the weeds of all of this talk. What does this mean tonight? Are they closer to actually seeing something change in their health care or in their taxes or in whatever it is they are thinking about tonight? Or is that still a long way down the line?

GERGEN: This was a significant milestone and perhaps one of the two or three more significant in the entire health care debate. Dana Bash is absolutely right. This was a major hurdle to clear in the Senate. So the likelihood has grown that there will be a final bill that will be passed in the next couple of months that will be signed by the President and will go into effect and will definitely affect almost immediately the health care insurance prospects for millions of Americans.

A lot of these rules from the health insurance companies about pre-existing conditions will disappear quickly. There are rules about being able to rescind your health care policy. When you become ill. That will disappear quickly. So people will start to experience benefits.

The cost start to kick in very quickly. People will see that their expenses are going to have to go up. They are going to have to buy not immediately but a lot of costs that are going to be phased in. But I do want to emphasize, Tom that over the next few weeks there will remain some big fights. Trying to reconcile this bill with the House bill and getting it passed and holding the fragile coalitions together and the Democratic Party.

I think the hopes of getting Republicans are not shattered on any final bill. But trying to reconcile and keeping these fragile coalitions together is going to be a major effort. And we're going to see it on abortion again. We're going to hear it on the public option again. So there's a ways to go, but hopefully on the next few days we in the Press and others can do a better job in trying to help people understand what actually is in here. Because I think Senator McConnell had a very good point, the details of this bill weren't available until yesterday morning.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV) MAJORITY LEADER: Or about procedure and everyone knows we're here at 1:00 in the morning because of my friends on the other side of the aisle, for them to say with a straight face, I noticed some of them didn't have that straight face, that we're here because of us is without any foundation whatsoever. And everyone knows that.

This is not about politics; it's certainly not about polling. It's about people. It's about life and death in America. It's about human suffering, given the chance to relieve this suffering, we must. Citizen each of our state, have written to tell us they're broke because of our broken health care system. Some send letters with even worst news, news of grave illnesses, preventable death. For weeks we've heard proponents complain about the number of pages in this bill. But I prefer to think of the bill in terms of the people that it will help.

A woman named Lisa Olsaka, lives in Gardnerville, Nevada, beautiful city below the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She lives there with her two daughters, both of whom are in elementary school. The youngest suffers seizures; her teachers think she now has a learning disability.

Because of her family history, Lisa, the girl's mom is at a high risk of cervical cancer. Though she's supposed to get an exam every three months, she doesn't go. She's lucky she goes once a year and most of the time she's not very lucky. When Lisa lost her job, she lost her health coverage. Now both Lisa and her daughter missed the preventive medicine that could keep them healthy. Her long letter to me ended with a simple plea, and it was. We want to be able to go to a doctor. That's a direct quote from her.

That's why this bill will assure that all Americans get the preventive tests and screenings they need. I'm voting yes Mr. President because I believe that Lisa and her daughter deserve to be able to go to the doctor.

A teenager named Caleb Waltz is a high school student from Sparks, Nevada. Like so many kids, he used to play soccer when he was younger. Now he just sticks to skiing and rock climbing. You can forgive him; I'm sure, for giving up soccer, Mr. President.

You see, Caleb was born with legs that end above his knees. As children mature, even Caleb, they grow out of their clothes, most kids grow out of his shoes. Caleb doesn't. A lot of kids probably get a new pair every year but Caleb has needed a new pair of prosthetic legs, every year since he was five. Unfortunately, unbelievably Caleb's insurance company has decided, knows better than his doctor, has decided Caleb doesn't need those legs.

That's why this bill will make it illegal for insurance companies to use pre-existing conditions and excuse to take our money and not give you coverage. This is a big change but it is a good change. I'm voting yes because I believe Caleb deserves a set of prosthetics that fit.

Ken Hanson wrote to me from a Meskeet Nevada town on the border, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, his chronic heart problems and parts of his feet have been amputated. But Ken can't go to the doctor because he makes too much to qualify for Medicaid. And too little to afford private insurance. I share with the Senate exactly what Ken wrote me.

"I'm very frustrated because it seems that my only hope is that I die very soon. I can't afford to stay alive. End of quote" That's why this bill will expand Medicaid to cover people like Ken from Meskeet Nevada, who are caught in the middle. I'm voting yes because when someone tells me his only hope is to die, I think we need to take a close look at that. I can't look away. I cannot possibly do nothing.

A man by the name of Mike Tracy he lives in North Las Vegas, Nevada. His 26-year-old has been an insulin dependent diabetic since he was a baby. The insurance Mike's son gets through work won't cover his treatments. And the Tracys can't afford to buy more insurance on their own. But his family's troubles are more than just about money. Since they can't afford to treat their son's diabetes, it develop into a disease called Addison's Disease. Which of course they can't afford to treat either. This disease can be fatal.

This is what Mike wrote me just two weeks ago. Again I quote, "I don't know what to pray for first. That I will die before my son will so I don't have to bear the burden, or that I outlive him so I can provide support to his family when he's gone," end of quote. Quite a set of prayers, Mr. President.

This shouldn't be a choice any American should have to make. It shouldn't be a choice any father or mother would have to make. And when given a chance to help people just like Mike, our choice should be very easy. That's what the legislation is all about. These are hard-working citizens with heartbreaking stories. They are people that play by the rules and simply want their insurance company to also do the same.

They are not alone. These tragedies don't happen only to Nevadans. They don't happen only to people despite all their pain find time to write to their leaders in Congress. These tragic events happen to people on the east coast, the west coast, and everywhere in between. These tragedies happen to Americans in small towns and in big cities. These tragedies happen to citizens on the Left side of the political spectrum and the Right side.

As Mike Tracy wrote in his powerful letter about his son, again I quote, "Democrats need health care, Republicans need health care, Independents need health care, all Americans need health care. Get it done." End of quote, and he's right. Every single senator, every one of us comes from a state where these injustices happen every single day. Every single senator represents hundreds, thousands of people who have to choose between paying an electricity bill or medical bill. Between filling a doctor's prescription for just, well, maybe just hoping for the best. Between their mother's chemotherapy treatment and their daughter's college tuition. As I mentioned earlier, on average, an American dies from lack of health insurance every ten minutes. That means in the short time I've been speaking, our broken system's claimed at least two lives.

Another American's died; two have died a preventable death, each of them. So as our citizens face heart rendering decisions, every day, tonight, every Senator has the choice to make as well. That choice: are you going to do all you can to overt the next preventable death, Mr. President, I hope.

I urgently -- I vote to stop this filibuster. Mr. President, I would advice my members that 1984 the Senate had opted a resolution as 480 to impose a requirement Senator's vote from their desks. I know that we don't do this all the time. But I would ask tonight that we do vote from our desks and follow the rule as RES. 480. Ask Senators to vote from their desks.

CHAIRMAN: The clerk will report the motion to invoke closure.

CLERK: We the undersigned Senators in accordance with revisions on rule 22 of the standing rules in the Senate, here by move to bring to a close the debate on the rate amendment number 3276 to the rate substitute amendment 20...

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: You just heard Senator Majority Party Leader Harry Reid making his case there. The ten minute speech before him the minority leader, Mitch McConnell also talking. Just proceeding what is a historic vote, no question this is the vote we've been talking about for a long time.

Let's bring back Dana Bash, as well as Dan Lothian as well. You know it's interesting, a lot of discussion obviously, you both heard those speeches, but Dan let me ask you something. One of the issues that Senator McConnell seem to have again was this idea that this is happening at night.

This is happening just four days before Christmas, what is the urgency right now? Right before Christmas, from your White House sources, why are you hanging about this deadline and how strictly is it being enforced?

DAN LOTHIAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well they really to believe that this is the best time to do it. And it really is all about capturing the momentum, to get this while they have the opportunity. We've been pointing out all night that several other presidents have tried to get this done. Seven other administrations have tried to get this done and have not been able to get this far.

So, they really, really want to jump on the momentum and get this done. And you know, yes, there is that criticism and you've heard there just two different views on what this bill will do.

Democrats believing that this is a bill that will save lives and Republicans saying that the whole bill is a mess. Not only the bill but the whole process. On the other hand you have a President here who really has a lot at stake. He really needs to get this health care reform through. It's his top domestic priority but ultimately, he doesn't have any Republicans on board which is something the President always wanted to have, bipartisan support.

GUPTA: And he really wanted to get this clearly done by the end of the year. This just being one of the votes of a few Dana that you've been telling us about throughout the week. They say it's going to wrap up before Christmas. You know, what are you hearing? It looks like they're voting now, is that right Dana, you're there, what is going on there?

DANA BASH, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, they are voting. And I think it's important to underscore the image that we are seeing, Harry Reid right before he stopped talking, he mentioned that he asked Senators to sit in their seats.

This is not something we see very often, Senators. Particularly the Senators in the majority who want to show the importance of a vote, they will ask Senators to sit in their seat just to symbolically show how, from the perspective of Democrats, historic, they believe this moment is. And that's why you see Senators voting from their chairs. Normally, they will be -- sort of milling around the well of the Senate. And you know, talking about -- talking amongst themselves. That is not happening right here.

One other thing that I wanted to point out that I just saw as you were talking to Dan, is that Robert Seebird, he is a 92-year-old Senator. He's just been wheeled in. He's been an ailing health and, you know, he along with the rest of the Senate, they have been working nonstop, late at night, early in the morning pretty much seven days a week.

So, he was just wheeled in there. And he will be one of the many, many critical votes that Democrats will have to rely on. In fact of course as we mentioned every single Democrat vote --

GUPTA: They need every one of them.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Dependence that they rely on. Yes.

GUPTA: That's right. You mentioned as well that Vicky Kennedy is there as well. I think you said in the chamber -- you know, couple of the speeches that we heard, they didn't evoke Ted Kennedy's name, former Senator Ted Kennedy. What is the significance of her being there? Who is she with? What does it all mean?

BASH: Vicky Kennedy is here to -- to carry the Kennedy torch. She is here to, I think you know just be there for the memory of her husband. She wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" over the weekend. Encouraging and urging Democrats to do this and not to squander this moment and that is something that is important to remember as we watch this vote.

Many of the times that people have evoked Ted Kennedy's name it has been to try to convince quarrelling Democrats divided Democrats, philosophically very different Democrats to come together right now because this is a moment that doesn't happen very often as we've been mentioning all night. It's been tried for decades and decades.

So, I think symbolically that is part of the reason why Vicky Kennedy wanted to be there in terms of the debate, and the vote, and also because of the memory of course of her husband.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In late shift here tonight, there's also some other members of the best political team on television our senior political analyst, David Gergen is with us up in Boston. Democratic strategist Donna Brazile is joining us on the phone. We were sort of hoping to get her tonight.

Donna, let me ask you a very simple question here, Mitch McConnell made a big point of how this was being done purely on partisan lines. I know you that that was a terrible thing; Harry Reid even mentioned the same thing, this notion of how it was broken on purely party lines. Would you feel better if Republicans were voting with this measure?

And the second part of that question is, why? If the Democrats believe this and the Republicans don't, why wouldn't the Democrats want to say it is holly ours, we are the ones that brought it to you, thank us.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST (on phone): Well, Tom first of all, I would be there with you but I'm one of those scardy cats that don't really do much in the snow here but let me say this, this is a historic vote a historic moment. The Democrats of course many Republicans who've been part of this process. I believe they've come up with a bill that will help not just provide insurance to those without it tonight.

But also, it will help lower the cost of insurance of those with health care. This is a very historic moment for the country. Not to look at this through the lenses of the partisan rank that has developed over the last couple of months. But to look at the details of the bill to ensure that Americans tonight will feel comfortable knowing that this legislation will not only save lives but save money but also help extend the life of the Medicare program that so many of our fellow citizens depend on.

So, I think it's an important moment to acknowledge all the good that's in the bill. And to, at least spend just few minutes to get away from the sausage making process that has really developed into one of the biggest partisan fights that we've seen this year.

As you know, the Democrats passed the (INAUDIBLE) bill without much Republican support. They passed protection for consumers with credit cards without much Republican support so they even pass the defense appropriation bill without much Republican support. So to, somehow single out this bill or this moment being more partisan than the other moments this year, I don't know if that true --

FOREMAN: But in simple terms Donna, let me interrupt you for one second, in simple terms though, would you like some Republicans on this with you?

BRAZILE: You know when it comes to diabetes, when it comes to all of the other chronic conditions in this country that preclude people from getting the kind of insurance that they need and Dr. Sanjay Gupta would know more about this than I do.

Yes, I would love those -- I would love the Republicans to be on board. But they're not. They're not. They are simply not going to participate and help them to move forward anything at this hour which has been all year. It's a disappointment, absolutely.

But the Democrats have accepted 160 amendments for the Republicans throughout the process. The Republicans had the last 20 days to offer amendments, they've only offered four. Two of the amendments dealt with protecting the insurance companies and the savings that they thought they needed --

FOREMAN: All right Donna I'm going to have to interrupt you there for a moment. And we're going to have to move --

(CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: The facts before criticizing the Democrats for moving forward on something that I believe --

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Hold on for just a moment here, Donna, I need to point out that Ben Nelson who was in -- in question for some time, they've just voted yes a moment ago. Joe Lieberman also voted yes a moment ago. Those are two of the votes that people were watching very closely here. And we'll try to keep you up to date on some of the other votes that came through.

I think I was just told a moment ago that somebody voted no, but I don't know what name that was, it sort of came by in a moment there. Oh and Olympia Snow voted no. She was one of the people who was questioning this whole thing. So, although she has made it pretty clear that that is what she was going to do.

David Gergen, I want to throw the same question to you very quickly as we're talking here, what's wrong with the Democrats simply saying, fine, you don't want to vote with us, this is entirely ours.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In my judgment, it's a tragedy for the country to have a bill this important, a stark piece of legislation passed with only one party voting for it. That is not happening, that's not been our history.

I mean, the time I was in the Clinton White House, President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton were pushing for health care reform. I remember so well, Pat Moine, he was one of my mentors in life. He's a wonderful Senator who called me in and said David, he even sent me all the literature on it.

Every time we pass major social legislation in this country, we pass it with supermajority. With both parties, it's so important to building public confidence, just like Earl Warren when they had the Brown versus Board of Education. He wanted to make sure it was nine, nothing separating court. He spent lots and lots of time rounding up everybody...

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Dave, I'll interrupt you for one moment...

GERGEN: OK, sure.

FOREMAN: Just to say that when we talk about supermajority, that's not what they have now. But they do in fact have the 60 votes that they were after. In our exclusive coverage tonight we can tell you the Democrats have in fact reached the 60 votes. Let's listen for a moment.

CLERK: Three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative. The motion is agreed to.

FOREMAN: And there you have it, David Gergen, there's the 60 votes. I want you to pick up that thought that you were saying though. You were saying -- this is certainly a victory for the White House but in many ways it seems like the fisher in this country, between the Left and the Right, Conservatives and Liberals and Republicans and Democrats, I guess you could argue it even deeper tonight.

GERGEN: It has, and it's terribly unfortunate. Donna Brazile is right, this is an historic moment. Senate of the United States has never voted for universal access before. This vote tonight, the 60 now ensures that the universal access bill will pass the Senate. That's very, very important for them.

Having said that, we've now reached the point where a significant social legislation, to this tragic quality was expressed by Olympia Snowe there.

There are Republicans of course, theologically opposed to anything working with the Democrats but Olympia Snow was trying to work with the Republicans to have her tonight express severe disappointment at the way that this is unfolding here in these last days, severe disappointment that this is the first major social legislation that is passed in this country and more than half a century that has not enjoyed a vote from the other side, I think it's brought us to the place where we can say, historic legislation is about to be made.

But it is a tragedy to me that it can't be done with more support from the other side. That this couldn't have been worked out in a more bipartisan way. I'm not sure -- the blame is pretty evenly divided here about who is responsible for that. But the fact is, the partisanship, the poisonous toxic atmosphere that exists on the Senate floor tonight in much Of Washington is not healthy for the country.

GUPTA: You're watching exclusive coverage of the Senate vote on health care. It's a quarter after the hour, quarter after one o'clock in the morning in Washington. We have 60 votes and this amendment has passed. The manager's amendment as it is called. The first in the series of votes. I want to bring back my colleague Dana Bash again.

You're there. First of all, what is happening now? So the vote is over, 60 Democrats voted yea and 40 Republicans voted no. What is happening now?

BASH: Well if you look on the Senate floor, you see a bunch of very tired but clearly very happy Democrats who are huddled there just below the clerk's desk. You see them hugging one another. You see the Democratic leader, Harry Reid talking to many of his colleagues there.

I mean this is something that -- that they have fought for and worked on day and night, literally day and night for the past month straight I would say and fairly happy. I can tell you, from firsthand experience, absolutely exhausted.

And what happens from here specifically after tonight or this morning? There will be another series of votes to finalize this bill. The hurdle has been crossed, if you will. They know that they have the 60 votes. They know that they have enough to ultimately pass this finally in the Senate. It's just a matter of how long it takes to get there.

And that likely won't happen Sanjay, until about Christmas Eve, the way that things are going here. It could be 7:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, when the Senate finalizes -- finalizes the health care bill.

GUPTA: I have a feeling you and I will be here -- talking about this again, even then on Christmas Eve. A lot more to talk about, we do want to dive a little bit into what remains over the next couple of days. And also I think importantly while this vote happen tonight, what does this mean for people watching. When will they start to see some of the ramifications of all that's happen?

That what we're talking about. Stay with us after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: We're covering this historic vote tonight by the Senate. They do have the 60 votes in they needed for closure to move the health care reform effort further forward. There's a big, big moment for Democrats. Certainly for this country, and they could argue for all of us indeed as it goes on. A big disappointment for Republicans.

We're joined by the best political team on television tonight. David Gergen, Dana Bash, Don Lothian, and Donna Brazile is with us by phone as well.

I want to turn to Donna because you had a thought a moment ago, and I want to pick up on that for just a moment if you would. David Gergen said that the lack of partisan cooperation on this reflects not only a deepening divide but also there was equal blame on both sides. Clearly Republicans want to say it's because Democrats would not work with them.

Clearly, Democrats want to blame it on the Republicans, put aside your partisan hat for a moment, and just give me your experience political analyst hat, is there blame on both sides about this and what is the consequence for the future of this bill as a result. I think Donna, I was asking her but I think we've lost her perhaps...

BRAZILE: Are you there Tom?

FOREMAN: Oh, I think we have Donna there. Are you there?

BRAZILE: Yes, I'm here.

FOREMAN: Yes, and did you hear the question, Donna?

BRAZILE: Well, yes I did, Tom. Let me just say this, I expected all along that the Democrats -- especially in the Senate, would try to make compromise with the Republicans on some of the over writing principles. Throughout the debate, especially when the debate shifted from the health committee. And one of the five committees that had over sighted this process, I thought Senator Baucus had made, you know, some real progress in bringing along Republicans.

They spent most of telling Republicans to try to encourage them to get on board. But the President reached out to Republicans. So that's why again, there are so many amendments in this bill that came as a result of trying to encourage Republicans to submit their alternatives, their ideas, their amendments, and at the end of the day, the vote tonight was about moving forward to ensure that this process would come to an end at some point.

So, yes, there's blame always especially in this highly toxic environment that David Gergen mentioned. But this is a moment to display leadership for our country and going back to what I said earlier, you know, we've had partisan votes on many other issues including the stimulus plan that many economists continue to say has helped save our economy save from the verge.

But I think in going forward, this needs to be explained to the American people. They need to understand what's in it for them. How much it will cost the average person. How much it will save the average person. But tonight I'm rejoicing because this is a victory for many, many of our fellow citizens who have just simply don't have the money to afford their current plan or to even buy health insurance. And I'm thinking about them. I'm thinking about all of them.

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: All right, Donna...

BRAZILE: I understand that this is personal. And that's why so many Americans feel so strongly about this issue because it is personal.

FOREMAN: Well, let's jump from that thought that you just raised there. Because David Gergen, I know you need to go. I want to raise one last question with you on all this. Let's move forward and look forward on this.

For the average American out there who has been watching this for months and months and has been lost in the weeds of all of this talk. What does this mean tonight? Are they closer to actually seeing something change in their health care or in their taxes or in whatever it is they are thinking about tonight? Or is that still a long way down the line?

GERGEN: This was a significant milestone and perhaps one of the two or three more significant in the entire health care debate. Dana Bash is absolutely right. This was a major hurdle to clear in the Senate. So the likelihood has grown that there will be a final bill that will be passed in the next couple of months that will be signed by the President and will go into effect and will definitely affect almost immediately the health care insurance prospects for millions of Americans.

A lot of these rules from the health insurance companies about pre-existing conditions will disappear quickly. There are rules about being able to rescind your health care policy. When you become ill. That will disappear quickly. So people will start to experience benefits.

The cost start to kick in very quickly. People will see that their expenses are going to have to go up. They are going to have to buy not immediately but a lot of costs that are going to be phased in. But I do want to emphasize, Tom that over the next few weeks there will remain some big fights. Trying to reconcile this bill with the House bill and getting it passed and holding the fragile coalitions together and the Democratic Party.

I think the hopes of getting Republicans are not shattered on any final bill. But trying to reconcile and keeping these fragile coalitions together is going to be a major effort. And we're going to see it on abortion again. We're going to hear it on the public option again. So there's a ways to go, but hopefully on the next few days we in the Press and others can do a better job in trying to help people understand what actually is in here. Because I think Senator McConnell had a very good point, the details of this bill weren't available until yesterday morning, and that's why Olympia Snowe is so displeased.

You know that a bill that is going to affect $33 trillion of spending in this country over the next decade or so, you know has been decided in a way that a lot of people don't the details. So I think there has to be time to figure out what are deals and what are the provisions here in the next few days. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: David Gergen joining us from Boston. Thanks so much for your time tonight and sorry you have to go. We have to release you now.

GERGEN: Thank you, Tom. Great job --

FOREMAN: It's good chat tonight and we are as David said going to have to go through a great deal of more of this in the coming days, but we're not finish tonight. We're going to continue with the rest of the best political panel on television trying to figure out precisely what this is going to mean to you and getting at some of these finer points that Dana Bash has been laying out all day.

We'll be talking some more with Dan Lothian as well and continuing our coverage here on this historic vote tonight giving you a sense of what it might mean and what is coming next. We'll be looking ahead. Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Now we're continuing our exclusive coverage of the Senate. Now just going into recess and historic vote occurring just about 1:45 in the morning. Sixty Democrats voting yes, 48 Republicans voting no on this managers amendment. A very important hurdle in this overall healthcare vote.

When I talked to Robert Zirkelbach now he's with the trade group American Health Insurance Plans that's based in Washington D.C. represents about 1,300 insurance companies covering some 200 million Americans. He joins us by phone. We'll get to know his reaction to the vote.

Let me just lay out a couple of points as we get started with Mr. Zirkelbach. In this Senate bill, there is public option. There is no expansion of Medicare as has been talked about over the past few weeks and there is no re-importation of drugs from other countries. That was being done potentially in attempt to lower drug cost.

I'm curious, what's your reaction is to what's happened tonight and where AHIP, American Health Insurance Plans stands on this?

ROBERT ZIRKELBACH, AMERICA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: Well, thank you for having me on. The current legislation doesn't do enough than the cost first and in fact, includes provisions that are going to increase cost for families and small businesses and disrupt the coverage that many people can rely on today.

There's $70 billion in a new premium tax that starts going into effect in 2011, years before the full benefit of the legislation kick in. In addition, there is doctors and hospitals get less money from the Medicare program, they're going to ship all of those costs on to employers.

And there's a number of new regulatory and rating requirements that are going to significantly increase costs for younger workers, making it more likely that they'll wait to purchase coverage, which again increases cost. So unless we get healthcare costs under control, the legislation is not going to be something that can be sustained.

GUPTA: Explain a little bit more to me. So what -- there is a wish list for AHIP as part of healthcare reform. What would be on the list? What would you be recommending to try and bring those costs down?

ZIRKELBACH: Well, you know, it's interesting. We proposed a year ago. Many of the major reforms that people are talking about today. Doing guaranteed issue, doing -- a no pre-existing condition exclusions and no longer basing premiums on person's health status or gender, and having requirement in everybody purchase coverage so those costs can be spread out amongst all of the population.

But so much of the focus over the last few months has been whether or not we do a government run plan that we've not been able to have a real discussion that we need to have on cost. Rather than just look at the Medicare program, which is what this legislation does, we even look across the healthcare system.

Ways that we can do more to pay for care that we're rewarding value and quality instead of just doing volume. Doing medical liability reform that adds a 10 percent tax on everybody's premium dollars. We need to do more in transparency and empowering patients with information so they can make the most informed healthcare decisions.

GUPTA: It sounds like you're primarily talking about how this is being paid for then as opposed the bill itself because some of the things sound very similar and no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.

A requirement that people have healthcare insurance and if they can't afford it, it will be in part subsidized. That sounds like what you're saying and that sounds like at least part of what's in the bill.

ZIRKELBACH: Exactly, there is a core of this legislation that has broad support, but we also need to make sure that the fundamentals of the legislation are going to work throughout the legislation. And that's why if we're doing new healthcare taxes, that's just going to increase the cost of coverage. If we're not bending the cost curve, we're going to continue to pay more and more for healthcare every year.

We went around the country, we sat down and talked to businesses and families, and asked them what their top priority was, and over and over, they said healthcare costs. And if you look at all the latest polls, the overwhelming majority of Americans right now say that the current bills don't do enough to bend the cost curve. In fact, they're going to make -- increase the cost of their healthcare coverage and they're worried about. And that's why you've seen support for the legislation dropped considerably.

GUPTA: That's something we have heard a few times now. This concern about whether the healthcare costs are being addressed and you've been listening to Robert Zirkelbach, spokesperson from AHIP, the American Health Insurance Plan.

We'll dive into that a little bit more right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: You're watching our exclusive coverage tonight of vote in the U.S. Senate, a historic vote which moves healthcare reform one step further forward. If you just missed it, they did get the 60 votes, the Democrats did, but they wanted to keep this moving forward and to close the debate.

And it looks like they will now be able to come out with the version that will then pair up with the House version of this bill and reconcile and come up with the final version that will then have then to be approved if people want to go that way.

We're joined by the best political team on television, Dana Bash, over on Capitol Hill. Our fine White House fellow, Dan Lothian and on the phone, Donna Brazil is joining us as well.

Dan, I want to ask you about the White House. We want to look forward at this point. What does the president and his team do now? They've cleared this hurdle but there's still a ways to go. What happens next?

DAN LOTHIAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There's still a ways to go, and I mean, we heard that from Senator Ben Nelson yesterday who when he was the hold out vote say that he still reserve the right to change his mind if there was any material change at all to the bill. So that is something that certainly doesn't guarantee that this is a done deal.

I think what you'll see over the coming days will be White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel continuing to take a very active role in negotiations behind the scenes not only from the White House, but also going up on Capitol Hill. Continue to make sure that this fragile alliance among Democrats continues to hold.

I was talking to a senior administration official a few minutes ago and certainly they are celebrating that they have crossed this major hurdle, but they point out that there's still a long road ahead. So a victory yes tonight, a historic victory, but still more work to be done, Tom.

FOREMAN: Dana Bash, what is in this measure now that if I'm a normal voter out there that I need to know about because frankly if I'm a normal voter out there, I've heard so many different things for so many different months. I can't keep track of what is out there. What are the key points that I should know about what passed tonight?

DANA BASH, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to answer that question, but I just want to briefly tell you something that I just heard from our Congressional Producer, Ted Barrett, who's currently in the hallways looking and talking to senators. He said that there's a lot of jubilation as you can imagine, but one very fine I have to pass along, Senator Chuck Schumer who has been deeply involved in the negotiations, he just turned in front of reporters, the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid and he said, Harry, you should really almost have a drink.

And why is that funny? Because Harry Reid is a Mormon and he doesn't drink. So that just shows how giddy and perhaps punchy they are in the Democratic leadership right now. But back to the substance, which of course is very important because Americans are looking at this and saying what is this mean?

Just specifically on what this vote was tonight, and this vote was on a compromised between philosophically different Democrats. I'll just give you the prime example of one thing that we've been talking about for a long time, a public option, a government run healthcare option, that no longer is in here.

Moderates or conservative Democrats, went out on that. They said the government should not have that kind of role, instead the compromise is that people are going to be able to probably if this goes through, access not for profit private insurance plans, they are going to be overseen by a government agency, not run but oversee by the Office of Personal Management.

That's the same agency that oversees federal employees' health care. So that's one thing that is different now with this vote. Also in terms of regulation on insurance companies, you've just talked to somebody who's involved in that. Of course, we've heard a lot about pre-existing conditions and so forth.

One thing was added to please some of the liberals in the Democratic caucus. And that is that 80 to 85 percent of people's premiums, what people pay will now have to be used by insurance companies on their medical expenses. One of the things that was put in here additionally, $10 billion for new community health centers. That is going to be for low income Americans and that should be -- those should be spread out I should say around the country, Tom.

FOREMAN: And Dana, this is not for profit plan that they're talking about. Is that something that would -- it sounds like that's roughly taking the place of the public option has a lot of the strappings of a public option but it's not. Do we have a model of something quite like that right now?

BASH: Yes, the model is what federal employees actually right now. What federal employees, senators, members of the House and everybody who works in this building and across the country for the federal government. They are able to choose from a handful of private plans, but those private plans are limited in how much profit they can make.

And so the goal, the ultimate goal of the government-run healthcare option, the reason why many Democrats said it was absolutely vital is to bring down the cost of healthcare for Americans by challenging or competing with health insurance companies. The hope with this compromise is that this will go at least a step or two towards that goal.

But I can tell you that this is going to be a big fight looking down road with the House because there is very strong support for this government-run healthcare option. But even the very important head of SCIU, a critical union who's been fighting very, very for a public option. He said on CNN today, public option is ultimately dead.

FOREMAN: Donna Brazile, let me ask you about that very briefly if you're still there. If we have you on the line. What about the fight between these two different chambers on all of these issues? Because, again, when we try to speak about what will affect the average citizen out there, I think there are two things that are paramount out here.

One, it's very complex to figure out what anything in this plan will really do versus what it's proposed to do and, secondly, with these two competing plans, it's hard to figure out what's going to come through. If you had to pick the three things that you think will really survive, that will affect normal people, what are they?

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, it will ban pre-existing conditions for all children by 2010 meaning that will go into effect right away. They are also some other great benefits that people will begin to immediately feel especially if you're a small business owner out there looking for ways to cut costs. And to ensure that you can continue to keep your overall payroll down by having access to the exchange and have an access to what Dana mentioned.

Some of the same benefits that health -- that employees as well as members have. I think that's another good benefit. But look the reconciliation between the House and Senate will be a very -- very difficult process because the Democratic caucus is very diverse. But I believe that 85 percent of the bill, most Democrats will readily support in trying to figure out the cost curve between the House and the Senate.

Some of the provisions on how to finance this bill, I believe that they will work that out. I think the president will have to be at the table to ensure that Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid can keep their caucus intact and we will have a bill that the president will be able to sign before the end of January.

FOREMAN: We'll keep looking forward on this when we come back in just a moment with the best political team on television. Dana Bash, joining us today, Dan Lothian, Donna Brazil as well and of course, Sanjay Gupta down in Atlanta. As we look at this all tonight, this historic vote as we move closer to the healthcare reform bill that might in fact make it to the president's desk.

We'll find out and we'll talk about the odds on that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Now we continue our exclusive coverage of the Senate vote on healthcare. About 1:45 in the morning tonight east coast time in Washington, that bill passed, 60 Democrats votes yes, 40 Republicans no. A big question, something we really we want to do for you today is to give you an idea of what this might mean for you? What this Senate bill, if it goes to its entirety and it's implemented, what its ultimately going to mean.

So I want to draw a couple of hypothetical examples and try and talk you through just very quickly, here. For example, the Smith family, a family of four, father is self-employed and let's say they make around $28,000 a year. What's going to happen to a family like this is they're going to qualify for Medicaid no matter what.

That sort of the first (inaudible) $28,000 a year as a salary, you're going to qualify for Medicaid and ultimately, the federal government is going to help defray those Medicaid cost up until the year 2016. So they are going to be significantly subsidized as a result of a bill like this.

Let's take something else. Another issue that comes up quite a bit is with regard to something known as pre-existing condition. So you've had some sort of health problem at some point in your life. You had insurance, maybe you lost it, now you're trying to get it again and find it seemingly impossible. This is what this whole debate has been about? How do you not discriminate based on pre- existing condition?

So Harry for example, had a heart attack at some point in his life. He works for a small company. He's having a hard time getting insurance. His salary (inaudible) $43,000 a year and what that mean specifically is that he makes a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid, yet too little really to buy any healthcare insurance plan that's out there.

What's going to happen immediately for him once this is implemented again, is that he'll be a candidate for an exchange where he could buy insurance from a series of insurance companies around the country that are sort of bidding for him trying to get the best rate possible.

Ultimately, for example, if the insurance costs about $4,500 a year, because of his salary and because of his condition overall, he will get a tax credit. We did the math already, ultimately the cost to him would be about $3,800 a year after those credits, those incentives, those subsidies go into effect.

But just that's a couple of examples of what specifically might happen if this is implemented again and how it would affect real people with pre-existing conditions or who are living near the edge, about 100 to 130 percent above poverty.

One thing that's important to keep in mind as we talk about this, obviously a lot of folks focused on this tonight. But a lot of these plans, a lot of the implementation of this isn't going to take place for years still, really up until 2014, before we'll see a lot of the realities come out from what we're talking about now. We'll get into that right after this break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DR. GUPTA: We'll continue our exclusive coverage of the Senate vote on healthcare bill. You know more than half of all health insurance policies even the good ones have limits. About paying claims over the course of your life so no matter how sick you are, no matter what care you need, you could eventually be out of luck. But the bills now in Congress, may eliminate those limits, which could save a lot of heartache for families like the one that you are about to meet and we're going to talk to. I think Terry King, are you joining us by phone? Are you there?

TERRI KING, MOTHER OF CHILD WITH HEART DEFECT: Yes, I'm here.

GUPTA: And Terry King is joining from Utah, I believe. Her son, Michael underwent two major operations at Stanford and the total cost of those operations ended up essentially using the entire lifetime limit for your plan at that time. Is that accurate -- let me start there and also ask how Michael is doing?

KING: Our baby's name is Matthew.

GUPTA: Sorry, Matthew.

KING: That's OK, and yes, in 10 months, he's gone through $1.9 million of his life time cap and he's doing very well right now.

GUPTA: As you watched everything that's happened tonight, Terry, I know this is something that you think about a lot. The cap or the elimination of the caps should strike you as a good thing. What are your thoughts?

KING: Well, of course, I would be very happy to not have a cap on our insurance, but the bottom line for me is I don't trust our government and I don't trust any of our politicians. So I honestly just don't believe anything that they say and if this bill was so wonderful then I don't know why they were threatening the Democrats and why they had to pay Democrats off to go for this bill and --

GUPTA: And when you say that, what are you referring to specifically, paying Democrat -- what do you mean?

KING: Well, by paying the congresswoman from Louisiana $300 million and threatening Lieberman and also threatening to close the Air Force base in Nebraska for Ben Nelson. And I just feel like if this bill was so wonderful, they wouldn't be doing this vote in the middle of the night and they wouldn't be paying off -- I just feel like they are bribing the Democrats to go along with this vote.

GUPTA: And you brought up the concern about this happening at 1:00 a.m. in the east coast and four days before Christmas. But looking at the bill as a whole, this idea that they're going to extend coverage over 30 million American. They're going to get rid some of these caps and people are not going to be discriminated against like your son, Matthew for pre-existing conditions. Are those things that resonate with you or not? KING: Yes, I would be very happy to know that Matthew could never be refuse insurance because of his heart condition, but I just feel that this bill was just the gateway into control of our entire life. I just feel this is just a step towards socialized medicine and we're against socialized medicine. I worry about --

GUPTA: I'm struck a little bit. I just want to make sure that I'm understanding clearly because you were very concerned obviously with the way the insurance industry worked for you and your son, Matthew when this all happened. And then this bill is something you're not pleased with either. What would you like to see? How does someone like you who as you described falls through the cracks, what works for you in a healthcare system?

KING: Well, honestly, since our lifetime cap was increased to $5 million. Our employer did increase our lifetime cap, we're very happy with our health coverage. My son gets excellent healthcare and we can go wherever we want. I just feel that this bill -- what I feel is that we should start off with just doing health insurance reform and tort reform.

And I think we should be able to purchase insurance across state lines. I think there are just other things we could have done first. Besides what they are doing right now.

GUPTA: All right, Terry, obviously a lot of discussion still to be had on this. Thank you for joining us so late at night and hopefully we can talk again soon. Good luck to your son, Matthew. Sorry about if I get the name wrong. I appreciate.

FOREMAN: Thank you, Tom, what an interesting night it's been. You know, where do we go from here, you know and what happens over the next few days. I have a feeling you and I will be talking about that quite a bit --

GUPTA: I'm sure we will.

FOREMAN: I'm sure we will and you know, Sanjay, I think the lady you just spoke to now, I think sort of encapsulates it. The simple truth is, there are a lot of votes out there right now with mix emotion about this. Some very happy about what happened tonight and some very upset about it. A good number in the middle are not quite sure what to make of it all, Sanjay. I'm sure we'll be talking about it a great deal. It's been a pleasure working with you tonight on this.

GUPTA: The same, Tom and I think, you know, one thing is that people I think are paying attention to this perhaps more than they have in a long time even at this late hour, Tom.

FOREMAN: Absolutely, and with, we wrap up our special exclusive coverage of this important vote tonight. Thank you for joining us here. "Planet in Peril" starts right now.