Castro appears to misrepresent Biden's health care plan during debate

Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY

Former Vice President Joe Biden and former Obama HUD Secretary Julián Castro fiercely debated health care at the Democratic primary debate in Houston on Thursday night – but Castro appears to have gotten his attack on Biden wrong and misrepresented part of his plan. 

Biden laid out a proposal within his health care plan that would allow people to buy into a public option, noting that "Anyone who can't afford it gets automatically enrolled in the Medicare-type option we have."

"The option I'm proposing is Medicare for all – Medicare for choice. If you want Medicare, if you lose the job from your insurance – from your employer, you automatically can buy into this," said Biden shortly after. "You don't have – no pre-existing condition can stop you from buying in. You get covered, period." 

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But, Castro said Biden's plan would make Americans opt-in rather than be automatically enrolled in a plan.  

"Barack Obama's vision was not to leave 10 million people uncovered. He wanted every single person in this country covered. My plan would do that, your plan would not," said Castro. 

"They do not have to buy in," replied Biden.

"You just said two minutes ago that they would have to buy in," shot back Castro. "You said they would have to buy in. Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?"

The Democratic presidential candidates have been fiercely debating the future of health care in America and a variety of proposals that would expand health care coverage.

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Castro's comment appeared to be a dig at Biden's occasional gaffes and forgetfulness on the campaign trail, though he was met with a backlash for his perceived sleight.

"I just thought this was not cool," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in a CNN interview after the debate, adding, "I thought that was so personal and so unnecessary.”

Michael McFaul, the Obama administration's ambassador to Russia, called the critique a "cheap shot" on Castro's part that was "not cool." 

Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin said "Castro was wrong and nasty."

Castro defended himself by saying he was not referring to Biden's age and instead drawing a policy distinction.  

"I wasn't taking a shot at his age. I was taking a shot at the fact that he had just said the words 'buy in,'" Castro explained afterwards in an interview with ABC. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Julián Castro appears to misrepresent Biden's health care plan