Senate passes $16B in federal FMAP increases through June 2011

After months of wrangling, the Senate passed a six-month extension of the increase in Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) payments.

The federal government will provide the increased FMAP payments to struggling state Medicaid coffers through June 2011 – provided the bill is passed by the House, which could vote as early as next week.

The initial increase in the federal match for FMAP came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The measures to extend it are included in H.R. 1586, an amendment to the Teacher Jobs and State Fiscal Relief bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called in the House from summer recess to a vote on H.R. 1586.

The amendment would provide $16.1 billion through a phased-down enhanced federal match that would provide an additional 3.1 percent beginning the first calendar quarter of FY2011, then dropping to 1.2 percent in the second calendar quarter.

The White House Office of Management and Budget "strongly supports" the extension, saying it would "provide critical assistance to states to help them maintain their Medicaid programs during a period of high enrollment growth and reduced state revenue."

The National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association have been pressing all year for Congress to pass an extension.

Maine Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins provided the Republican votes needed to achieve a super-majority to pass the legislation.

"We understand that, as our national and state economies continue to struggle, a further extension of the enhanced FMAP is necessary to help states protect against further job losses as the economy slowly turns around," they said in a joint statement.