Estimates peg the first-decade cost of “Medicare for All” at $32.6 trillion. Discuss.

The Associated Press reports on a new study from the Mercatus Center that estimates the cost of the widely-discussed (though without a whole lot of detail) idea of Medicare for All. Consider the first line a lede that launches a thousand conversations.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan would increase government health care spending by $32.6 trillion over 10 years, according to a study by a university-based libertarian policy center.

That’s trillion with a “T.”

Some of you will read “libertarian policy center” and discount the findings. Consider, then, this (sticking with the AP for now).

The Mercatus analysis estimated the 10-year cost of “Medicare for all” from 2022 to 2031, after an initial phase-in. Its findings are similar to those of several independent studies of Sanders’ 2016 plan. Those studies found increases in federal spending over 10 years that ranged from $24.7 trillion to $34.7 trillion.

Kenneth Thorpe, a health policy professor at Emory University in Atlanta, authored one of those studies and says the Mercatus analysis reinforces them.

“It’s showing that if you are going to go in this direction, it’s going to cost the federal government $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion a year in terms of spending,” said Thorpe. “Even though people don’t pay premiums, the tax increases are going to be enormous. There are going to be a lot of people who’ll pay more in taxes than they save on premiums.” Thorpe was a senior health policy adviser in the Clinton administration.

And this from the not-at-all-libertarian Urban Institute.

No matter how a single-payer system is structured, it would increase government spending dramatically. The Urban Institute estimated that the single-payer plan Sanders proposed in 2016 would have cost an additional $32 trillion in federal spending over 10 years.

There seems to be a convergence.

Meanwhile, also on the healthcare beat, Stateline reports that “red states may be ready to expand Medicaid–in exchange for work.”

As the 2018 midterms approach, expect to hear a lot more about these issues.