Barton on Medicaid: 'There's no national emergency'

A top Republican warned Tuesday that billions of dollars in emergency Medicaid funding will likely go to middle income folks who don't need the help. 

"There's no national emergency," Rep. Joe Barton (Texas), the senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said just before the House approved $16.1 billion in new Medicaid funds. "New York has a Medicaid reimbursement rate at 350 percent of poverty, which is pushing about $80,000 for a family of four."

"This is money we don't have being spent on programs that are not in dire emergency at a time when the unemployment rate is 10 percent," he said.

There's just one problem: New York's Medicaid program doesn't cover anyone in families earning more than 200 percent of poverty.

The discrepancy wasn't lost on Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who noted that "no state has 300 percent of poverty for Medicaid."

"That's just not the way the states run it," Waxman said. "We are talking about the poorest of the poor [who] get Medicaid assistance."

The measure — part of a $26.1 billion state aid package — passed the House by a tally of 247 to 161. President Obama is scheduled to sign it into law Tuesday evening.