US President Donald Trump has vowed to spend $1tn (£807bn) on infrastructure and come up with a plan to replace Obamacare that ensures Americans with pre-existing conditions get insurance. He outlined the bold plans during his first address to a joint session of the House and Senate of the American Congress Tuesday (28 February) night.
"I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1tn investment in the infrastructure of the United States," the president said, adding it will be "financed through both public and private capital" creating millions of jobs.
If approved by Congress, the investment would be hundreds of billions more than the $787bn plan approved after being rolled out by President Barack Obama to boost the American economy in the wake of the Great Recession in 2009.
Trump promised that job growth would be driven by the plan because it would be underpinned by the principles of "buy American and hire American".
At the same time the president also promised that Republicans will come up with a plan that ensures "Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage", — a popular and major change brought in by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare.
While suggesting some elements of Obamacare will be kept, Trump called on Congress to repeal the ACA and replace it with a new plan that allows Americans to purchase their coverage through tax credits and Health Savings Accounts.
"Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America," he argued. "It must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the government."
In Congress, Republicans are still in disagreement about the plan that they want to table after House speaker Paul Ryan outlined his proposals last week to GOP opposition. An analysis of Ryan's plan by the McKinsey & Company sent to state governors, however, shows that Republican plans could lead to millions of Americans losing their health insurance.
Nevertheless, under the ACA healthcare premiums have increased by 25% on average across the 50 US states. In Arizona health insurance premiums have risen 100% since the ACA was enacted. But the law also extended Medicaid health insurance to 14 million poor Americans who had never been insured.
Trump seemed to leave the door open to some Republican and Democrat state governors who wanted to keep aspects of the law. "We should give our great state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out," Trump said. His plan also includes allowing Americans to buy health insurance across state lines.
The president pitched legal reforms that will "protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs" that drive up insurance prices and said he would immediately bring down the price of medication.
"Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed," he said. "Every problem can be solved."