The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to extend by six months a 6.2% increase of the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) under Medicaid. The extension translates to an additional $23.5 billion in Medicaid funds.

The temporary FMAP increase is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to provide more funding for state Medicaid programs. It was designed to keep up with increased Medicaid enrollment due to the recession. While originally slated to end Dec. 31, 2010, it will now continue to be available through June of 2011. The measure was part of a jobs bill, H.R. 2847. The House passed the bill 217-212. The Senate is expected to consider the jobs bill after the start of the new year. A recent study by Eljay LLC found that states have been using the extra FMAP money to fill their budget holes and not for their Medicaid programs.

The House also voted Wednesday to stop an pending 21% cut in Medicare physician pay. The stopgap measure would freeze physician pay at current levels until Feb 28, 2010. The physician pay provision was attached to a Defense Department spending bill, which received significantly more support than the jobs bill. The Defense Department bill sailed through the House by a vote of 395-34. The measure now goes to the Senate.