Although VP Biden’s new policies may not be as bold as Senator Sanders’, Biden is attempting to reach out to Sanders’ supporters by proposing to lower the eligibility age for Medicare to 60 from 65. His other proposal focuses on forgiving student loans for low and middle-class families “who attended public colleges or private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and private, underfunded minority-serving institutions (MSIs).”
Biden’s proposal would be in addition to his existing student debt proposals:
- Immediately cancel a minimum of $10,000 of student debt per person, as proposed by Senator Warren in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
- Those earning less than $25,000 per year will not have to make monthly payments and will accrue no interest
- Those earning more than $25,000 per year will pay no more than 5% of discretionary income toward payments
- After 20 years, the remainder of federal student loans will be forgiven without any tax burden
- Those who participate in public service will be eligible for additional federal loan forgiveness, including $10,000 per year of forgiveness for up to five years.
Under this concept, Americans would have access, if they choose, to Medicare when they turn 60, instead of when they turn 65. Medicare benefits would be provided to them as they are to current Medicare recipients. 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. It reflects the reality that, even after the current crisis ends, older Americans are likely to find it difficult to secure jobs.
Of course, those who prefer to remain on their employer plans would be permitted to do so, and employers would have to comply with non-discrimination laws and would be prohibited from excluding older workers from coverage or otherwise try to push them out of their plans. And the Biden Medicare-like public option — as well as other subsidized private plans available to individuals through the Affordable Care Act — would remain available.
Any new Federal cost associated with this option would be financed out of general revenues to protect the Medicare Trust Fund.