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By Juliegrace Brufke
House Speaker Paul Ryan blasted the accusation that the leadership-backed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare includes a new entitlement program during an interview Thursday on Sean Hannity’s radio program.
A number of conservatives have blasted a provision providing refundable tax credits based on age for those who don’t receive benefits through their employer or an existing government program, dubbing the credits “rebranded subsidies.”
Ryan said the tax credits are different from the Affordable Care Act’s federal insurance subsides based on income, arguing the credits would give individuals the freedom to purchase the plan they feel is best without the government forcing people to buy insurance.
“No, that’s not an entitlement. Letting people keep more of their own money and doing what they want with it is not an entitlement,” he said. “If you think letting people keep more of their own money and letting them do what they want with it is an entitlement, then you must believe this is Washington’s money.”
“Rand Paul’s bill has a tax credit in it, this is the Tom Price bill that 12 Freedom Caucus members were the co-sponsors of that this is — so I don’t, for the life of me, understand why a person would say giving taxpayers tax credits is an entitlement.”
Kentucky Sen. Paul’s office said the tax credits in his plan are structured differently than the House GOP’s bill.
“Where they provide a universal refundable credit based on age and income, our bill allows people to deduct the full cost of their insurance and provides a credit to incentivize contributions to HSAs. None of the credits in our bill can exceed someone’s taxable income – we were aiming to let people keep more of their own money that they have had to spend on health care costs,” an aide familiar with Paul’s plan told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “The House bill will provide the credits straight to insurance companies (similar to Obamacare’s credits) and the refundable aspect makes it operate a bit more like a welfare program.”
Under the House plan, purchasers under 30 would receive a $2,000 tax credit. The plan also offers $2,500 for those between 30-39, $3,000 those 40-49, $3,500 for those between 50-59 and $4,000 for the over-60 bracket. Funds that weren’t spent on a plan could then be eligible for a Health Savings Account (HSA), and the amount individuals are allowed to put in HSAs would also be increased under the proposal. The credits are gradually lowered for individuals with incomes that exceed $75,000 and $150,000 for families.
Proponents of the House plan argue their bill is more conservative, dubbing Paul’s plan “Obamacare plus.”
House Republican leadership said they are hopeful that as more members learn about the plan, more will support it.
Ryan said he would like to pass the legislation before Easter recess.