Levin spending recess hearing about healthcare reform

EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan Democrat Carl Levin says he's spending the Senate recess listening to constituents, health care providers and insurance companies to learn more about what people want from national health care reform.

Unlike other lawmakers who've found themselves hosting volatile town hall forums, Levin says he's instead meeting with people he says are on the health care industry firing line. Levin says one idea he's discussing is an insurance exchange program that would give federal benefits to companies that choose not to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. He says such a program would not be a government mandate.

"But if you're not on that exchange, you're not going to be doing very well as an insurance company, probably," he said. "So I think most insurance companies will sign up to it, and I think the insurance industry is committed to that principle as well."

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow serves on the Senate finance committee. That body is drafting reform legislation that if approved is likely to be combined with another bill that cleared the Senate health committee last month.