April 9 (UPI) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a plan to lower the Medicare age to 60 and forgive student loan debt for low-income and middle class people if elected president.
Biden shared the plan in a blog post on Medium, referencing rising unemployment claims as many businesses have shut down amid federal guidance and orders by state governments that Americans remain at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"The economic crisis brought on by this virus is both accelerating and deepening," he said. "These unemployment numbers today are another flashing warning sign that our country and our people will endure enormous economic pain. It is our responsibility to move quickly and effectively to help them."
Biden's plan would provide the benefits available to all current Medicare recipients to Americans upon turning 60 instead of waiting to turn 65.
"This would make Medicare available to a set of Americans who work hard and retire before they turn 65, or who would prefer to leave their employer plans, the public option, or other plans they access through the Affordable Care Act before they retire," Biden said.
He added that other insurance options such as employer plans would remain available and employers would be required to comply with non-discrimination laws and prohibited from excluding or trying to remove older workers from their plans.
Additionally, Biden proposed to forgive all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from both two- and four-year public colleges and institutions for individuals earning up to $125,000.
"The federal government would pay the monthly payment in lieu of the borrower until the forgivable portion of the loan was paid off," said Biden.
The plan would also apply to individuals with federal student loans from private institutions, historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions.