(CNSNews.com) - Republicans "have an obligation" to step in front of the collapsing Obamacare law and "replace it with a better system, and that's what we're about doing," House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told a news conference on Tuesday.
And he said he anticipates Republicans are "going to be unified on this," when the legislation finally emerges.
Ryan said the Republican goal is to give people access to more affordable health care choices, regardless of whether they have a pre-existing condition.
But Republicans are still a long way from putting a bill on President Trump's desk, and disagreements are emerging, particularly over Republican calls for refundable tax credits to subsidize health insurance for people who don't get it through their employer. (Sounds a lot like Obamacare, critics say.)
Three conservative senators -- Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah -- oppose what they are now calling "Obamacare lite." They insist on a full repeal of Obamacare, using the original 2015 repeal language. They object to keeping any part of Obamacare, including refundable tax credits.
"I think you're going to have a lot of churning on any kind of legislative product like this," Ryan said on Tuesday. "This is a plan that we're all working on together -- the House, the Senate, and the White House, so there aren't rival plans here. We're all working on this together with the administration."
Ryan noted that the overhaul process started more than a year ago with a Republican task force producing a "consensus plan that we all ran on together." He said that plan looked a lot like the plan proposed by then-Rep. Tom Price, now the Health and Human Services Secretary.
"Many conservatives co-sponsored that plan," Ryan said. "That plan looks a lot like what we're working on right now."
"Now you have to remember, when it comes to tax credits, people who do not get health insurance from their job are discriminated against right now in the tax code. Let me say that again: The current tax code discriminates against people who don't get health care at work."
Among other things, Ryan is advocating a new system of refundable tax credits that would vary according to a person's age instead of income. And he wants to cap the open-ended tax break for job-based insurance premiums.
"We want to end the discrimination in the tax code against people who don't get health care at work and equalize the tax treatment of health care, so that everybody, regardless of whether you get health care at work or don't, has an opportunity to get a health care plan that's affordable for you."
Ryan said that's what Republicans are working on right now with the administration: "And I feel, at the end of the day, when we get everything done and right, we're going to be unified on this."
Ryan said the process of writing a health care bill will be transparent and go through committee hearings, unlike the Democrats' back-room dealing.