Senate Democrats sent a letter to Harry Reid (D-NV) requesting that the majority leader include a six-month extension of state Medicaid assistance in his new healthcare stopgap legislation.

“The urgency for extending the [federal medical assistance percentage] provision, which expires in December, cannot be overstated,” wrote 44 Democratic senators on Wednesday.

Citing information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the senators point out that as many as 900,000 jobs could be lost if states lose the additional Medicaid funding in 2011. The funds also would help states address an estimated $300 billion combined budget shortfall over 2011 and 2012, they wrote. The FMAP extension is part of a bill currently being held up by Republicans over an extension of unemployment insurance through COBRA, according to Washington news service Roll Call

Reid is also busy working on a different piece of legislation he hopes will delay a 21% pay cut for Medicare physicians set to take effect Monday. In addition, he said he wants to remove the $1,860 limit on certain Medicare reimbursable therapies. That bill is also hung up due to lack of unanimous consensus, according to CQ HealthBeat.