CBO: Funding CHIP for 10 years would actually save $6 billion
A draft copy of the 21-page of a Health and Human Services Department form proposed for use to apply for low-cost insurance from Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. J. David Ake/AP

Funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program for 10 years could actually save the government money, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report published Thursday — a factoid that supporters of soon-to-expire program are sure to use as they lobby for its reauthorization.

Funding the program — which provides health insurance to nearly 9 million children from low-income families — for 10 years would save the federal government $6 billion, according to the CBO’s report.

Funding CHIP is cheaper than moving the covered children to other coverage options, including Medicaid and through subsidized plans in the Affordable Care Act marketplace, according to the CBO.

Funding for CHIP expired more than 100 days ago, after Congress failed to reauthorize the program.

In December, Congress passed short-term funding for the program — injecting it with $3 billion through March 2018. But Congress is currently debating long-term funding options. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested a five-year reauthorization.

Democrats are likely to push for a 10-year reauthorization, particularly after the CBO report said extending the program for longer actually saves the government money.

“BIG news: extending #CHIP for 10 years would SAVE $6 billion dollars,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted Wednesday. “With this news, securing kids’ health care for the long-term should be a no-brainer.”