First Republican Congressman backs away from Medicaid panel

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Yet another member of Congress has declined to work with the Medicaid commission, this time a Republican.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) was entitled to select one member of Congress to serve as a nonvoting adviser to the commission. Instead, he has opted to focus on developing legislation in the committee that would tie into the panel's goal of identifying $14.7 billion in savings from entitlement programs. One of the commission's first tasks is to find $10 billion in savings from Medicaid.

Barton is the latest policymaker and first Republican Congressman to distance himself from the commission. Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) is the other notable Republican to split with the White House on the issue.

Democrats backed away from the panel, alleging partisanship and arguing that Medicaid spending should not be reduced by $10 billion. The National Governors Association also said it would not participate in the panel and would work on Medicaid reform among itself. Two spots are open, however, on the panel for governors to join later.

Besides the NGA, the House Energy and Commerce and Senate Finance committees are working on their own Medicaid reform strategy.