The Senate has passed a six-month extension of the increased federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), which provides the enhanced funding for state Medicaid programs.

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Senate OKs extension of enhanced Medicaid funding

August 6th, 2010

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The Senate has passed a six-month extension of the increased federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), which provides the enhanced funding for state Medicaid programs.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which has advocated for the FMAP extension, said the measure was passed Thursday by the Senate in 61-39 vote. That followed a key procedural vote on Wednesday, when the Senate voted 61-38 to invoke cloture on the measure, ending debate and moving forward with consideration of the legislation. Sixty votes were needed for cloture.

According to NACDS, the House of Representatives plans to suspend its August district work period to reconvene in Washington next week to vote on the measure. The House and Senate must pass the legislation in identical form before it can be sent to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

FMAP was raised temporarily as a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act economic stimulus legislation. The added funding is seen as critical to helping budget-crunched states support health care services — including pharmacy — provided through Medicaid. Unless Congress passes the six-month extension, the increased funding is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.

"This enhanced federal funding of state Medicaid programs is important for the prevention of additional cuts to pharmacy services and pharmacy access at the state level," stated NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. "Pharmacy access is vital to helping patients take their medications correctly, which is essential for maintaining patient health and preventing dramatic increases in long-term health care costs, particularly in the treatment of chronic disease."

NACDS noted that while it has been advocating for the FMAP extension, the association also has voiced pharmacy's position on a provision of the funding bill that would alter the definition of average manufacturer price (AMP) that was included in the new health care reform law. The provision was inserted to help pay for aspects of the funding bill.

NACDS said it has been advised that the AMP change isn't intended to impact Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement but to ensure that rebate dollars are collected from manufacturers of inhalation, infusion, instilled, implanted or injectable drugs not generally sold in community pharmacies.

"Since the enactment of the new healthc are reform law, NACDS has emphasized the importance of maintaining a proactive stance for pharmacy as the executive branch implements the law, as well as during any follow-up legislation," Anderson explained. "Ensuring that this definitional change does not impact pharmacy patient care will be a focus of NACDS' continued vigilance on these issues."