updated 10/24/2009 12:35:55 PM ET 2009-10-24T16:35:55

Republicans are asking voters a basic question about Democratic proposals to overhaul the nation's health care system: "Will this improve your life?"

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Most people agree that health care changes should decrease the costs and make it easier to receive health care, Republican Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns said Saturday in the GOP's weekly video and radio address.

"Yet current proposals in Congress don't accomplish this goal and could even have the opposite effect, negatively impacting each and every one of us," Johanns said.

"As a select few deliberate over legislation that will mean higher premiums across the board, higher taxes for hardworking families and cuts to Medicare for senior citizens, I ask: Will this improve your life?" he said.

Though details are still being hashed out, the legislation would remake the nation's $2.5 trillion health care system with a new requirement for most Americans to purchase health insurance, and government subsidies to help lower-income people do so. Insurers would face new restrictions against dropping coverage for sick people or denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions.

Johanns listed several examples of proposed changes he said could have a negative effect on various groups of people. Among them:

  • "To the factory worker, who has forgone pay raises for the promise of better insurance benefits for you and your family: your health insurance will be taxed and your premiums will go up."
  • "To the recent college graduate burdened with student loans: you'll be forced to buy health insurance the government mandates, and if you refuse, you'll be hit with a penalty."
  • "To our seniors, who wish to receive care in the comfort of their homes: funding for hospice care and home health care services would be cut."

The White House and congressional Democrats dispute such arguments, saying their health care plans would result in stronger and better coverage for all and ultimately lower prices since they are seeking to rein in wasteful spending. They also note that currently, people with insurance pay a "hidden tax" created by the costs of emergency room visits by the uninsured being shifted to the rest of the population.

As for the proposed cuts to Medicare providers, Democrats say they would not affect core Medicare benefits and would strengthen the program overall by reducing fraud and abuse.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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