Senate rejects Medicaid extension bill, House OKs temporary doc fix

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Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) serves on the Senate Finance Committee.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) serves on the Senate Finance Committee.

Senate Republicans Thursday succeeded in blocking a bill that would extend federal Medicaid assistance to states and reinstate jobless benefits.

The measure failed by a vote of 57-41. Republicans had objected to the cost of the measure, arguing that it would add too much money to the federal deficit. The Medicaid provision would have extended by six months a temporary 6.2% increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) to states. In a bid to garner Republican support, Democrats pared down the measure. The final version would have provided an increase of only 3.2% in the second quarter and 1.2% in the third quarter.  

Thursday's procedural vote could prove to be the final action on the extenders bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is now expected to focus on a small business jobs bill being crafted in committee, according to The Hill newspaper. While Reid has said that provisions from the extenders bill will not be added to the small jobs bill, some Washington insiders expect that some of those measures will find their way into the new legislation, The Hill reported.

Meanwhile, the House Thursday passed by 417-1 a bill (H.R. 3962)  that would reverse the 21% Medicare physician pay cut imposed on physicians last week. The measure delays the cut by six months. The Senate approved the measure last week. It now goes to President Obama for his signature.