Ryan pushes back against critics panning health plan as 'entitlement'
© Keren Carrion

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanEmbattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' MORE (R-Wis.) on Thursday sought to push back against criticism from the right that the GOP leadership’s healthcare bill amounts to another “entitlement” program like ObamaCare.

During an interview on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Ryan argued that replacing the 2010 law’s subsidies to help low-income people buy health insurance with tax credits was not the same as directly giving people federal aid.

“Letting people keep more of their own money and doing what they want with it is not an entitlement,” Ryan told the Fox News host. 

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“Then why are they calling it that?” Hannity pressed, referring to the bill’s critics. 

“I don’t, for the life of me, understand why a person would say giving taxpayers tax credits is an entitlement,” Ryan said. 

Ryan’s appearance on Hannity’s show is part of a strategy to sell the GOP leadership's proposal to repeal and replace the 2010 law to conservative audiences who may still be skeptical. 

A Ryan spokeswoman tweeted that there’s “more of that to come,” which she indicated could include more appearances on Hannity’s show.

Ryan suggested the House may consider another follow-on healthcare measure regarding association health plans during the same week as the reconciliation package being used for the repeal-and-replace proposal, formally titled the American Health Care Act. 

Republicans are turning to a process known as reconciliation to circumvent a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. 

Bringing up a bill regarding association health plans, which provide health coverage through an industry organization, could be a way to placate conservatives threatening to oppose the leadership’s healthcare and insurance plan. Such a measure, however, would be subject to a 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

“We’re bringing that bill to the floor the same week we’re doing reconciliation,” Ryan said. 

Ryan and his leadership team are hoping to bring the repeal-and-replace plan to the House floor within the next few weeks.

GOP leaders have said their healthcare reform will unfold in three phases: passing the repeal-and-replace bill, administrative actions by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and additional smaller, separate healthcare bills to make adjustments. 

Peter Sullivan contributed.