The CBO says a 10-year CHIP extension costs less than nothing.

Extending the Children’s Health Insurance Program’s budget for an additional decade would save the federal government $6 billion, according to new estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

CHIP’s funding expired 103 days ago, on September 30. For months now, negotiations in Congress have stalled over how to pay for the program that covers 9 million low- and middle-income children. Republicans proposed a series of deeply partisan spending cuts to cover the costs of extending CHIP, such as slashing Obamacare programs and Medicare.

So far, the debate has centered on a five-year extension of CHIP’s budget. But the new projections, issued in a letter to Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), suggest that switching to a permanent or 10-year extension may side-step the debate about how to pay for the program altogether.

In an interview with Vox, Pallone said he is now planning to advocate for a permanent extension of CHIP’s budget.

“Our problem has been the pay-fors,” he said. “We’ve been negotiating those and we want to eliminate the bad pay-fors that sabotage the ACA. Now, I hope that wouldn’t be a problem at all, that they would just eliminate those things.”

Senate Finance Ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR) has also tweeted favorably about the 10-year extension. His committee has jurisdiction over the health program’s budget.

BIG news: extending #CHIP for 10 years would SAVE $6 billion dollars. With this news, securing kids’ health care for the long-term should be a no-brainer.

— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) January 10, 2018

His spokesperson, Taylor Harvey, elaborated: “Sen. Wyden has always supported extending CHIP for as long as possible, including a permanent extension that would save taxpayers billions of dollars while giving kids long-term health care security. He is working day and night with Read More Here