It's a long time since I drank champagne.
The lamentation of late 19th Century Russian playwright Anton Chekhov could have been more detrimental than was once believed. Researchers from Reading University in the U.K. have revealed that imbibing in two glasses of champagne per day is beneficial for blood circulation and the heart.

They found that moderate champagne consumption promotes an improvement in acute endothelial-independent vascular function via the delivery of phenolic constituents capable of improving bioavailability and reducing matrix metalloproteinase activity, according to their study in the British Journal of Nutrition.

And since the cardiac benefits of dark chocolate and red wine have already been well publicized, indulging moderately in the sweeter aspects of life may be doctor recommended during this festive season.

Senate Democrats have equally good news at the end of this calendar year, as they managed to garner just enough votes to pass their healthcare reform bill—albeit moderated to exclude a public option and reduced physician payments. The vote is scheduled for tomorrow, Christmas Eve morning at 8 a.m., and the President is delaying his holiday trip to Hawaii to support his colleagues.

Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office found that the bill, with the amendments, would yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $132 billion between 2010 and 2019. Also, Medicare spending under the legislation would increase at an average annual rate of roughly 6 percent during the next two decades—slightly below the roughly 8 percent annual growth rate of the past two decades.

If approved, the bill would be passed to the House/Senate conference committee to resolve the differences between the two versions. (The House approved a much more wide-reaching bill in early November.) As the proverbial expression goes, the fight is far from over but supporters of the bill are lauding this potential passage as a victory.

The flurry of activity at the end of this calendar year has continued at the same frenetic pace of the greater part of 2009, but as the celebrations of the concluding year unfold, we wish you and yours a bubbly and relaxing holiday season.

On these topics, or any others, please feel free to contact me.

Justine Cadet