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Former Housing Urban and Development Secretary Julian Castro took a shot Thursday at Joe Biden, accusing the former vice president of flip-flopping on health care.
The exchange between the two former Obama administration officials came during a discussion about health care — specifically Medicare for All — at the Democratic presidential debate.
“I know that the problem with your plan is that it leaves 10 million people uncovered,” Castro told Biden. “I want every single American family to have a strong Medicare plan available.”
“If they choose to hold on to strong, solid private health insurance — I believe they should be able to do that — but the difference between what I support and what you support, Vice President Biden, is that you require them to opt in, and I would not require them to opt in. They would automatically be enrolled, they wouldn’t have to buy in.”
“That’s a big difference,” he added, “because Barack Obama’s vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person covered. My plan would do that. You plan would not.”
Biden was indignant.
“They do not have to buy in,” he replied, garnering applause from the audience.
“They do not have to buy in,” he said again.
But Castro had a response ready.
“You just said that two minutes ago,” he said. “You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in. You said they would have to buy in.”
And then the line that elicited gasps from the audience.
Julián Castro tangles with Joe Biden on health care.
Biden: "They do not have to buy in."
— Deena Zeina Zaru 👩🏻💻 (@Deena_Zaru) September 13, 2019
“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago? Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago?” Castro asked Biden.
“I can’t believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in and now you’re saying they don’t have to buy — you’re forgetting that.”
Biden wasn’t pleased.
“I said anyone with a grandmother who has no money,” he said, “you’re automatically enrolled.”
According to Castro: “We need a health care system that automatically enrolls people regardless of whether they choose to opt in or not.”
“I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama, and you’re not,” he said.
Castro does appear to be correct in asserting that Biden’s plan would require people to buy in to a public health care plan.
“Whether you’re covered through your employer, buying your insurance on your own, or going without coverage altogether, the Biden Plan will give you the choice to purchase a public health insurance option like Medicare,” Biden’s campaign has said.
What this means, according to Vox, is that everyone “will have the option to enroll in the public option with potentially big implications for how employers decide to structure their health benefits.”