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Two things are true about the prospect of switching to a single-payer health care system: It could easily be less expensive than the system we have now, and it would require substantial tax increases.

Expand chart
Data: Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Driving the news: The libertarian Mercatus Center made waves yesterday with a report that said Sen. Bernie Sanders' version of "Medicare for All" would require about $32.6 trillion in new federal spending over its first 10 years.

  • Other estimates of Sanders' proposal have landed on roughly the same price tag.

Yes, but: It's still less expensive than what we're projected to spend now. If Mercatus' estimates are correct, Sanders' plan would cost about $2 trillion less, over 10 years, than the status quo.

The difference is where the money comes from. We spend a ton of money right now on health care — about $3.3 trillion in 2016, which comes out to more than $10,000 per person. That’s far more than any other industrialized nation.

  • Those expenses are spread across taxes (to fund Medicare and Medicaid), premiums (from both individuals and employers), and out-of-pocket spending.

Between the lines: Countries with established single-payer systems spend a lot less than the U.S. on health care now, but Sanders' proposal is more generous than some of those systems. That puts it on the most expensive end of the spectrum.

  • Mercatus assumes that Sanders' new federally run program would only pay doctors and hospitals Medicare rates (as his plan calls for). If a future Congress compromised with those powerful lobbies, as Congress often has in the past, the savings would diminish.

Go deeper

Danger lurks in the Democrats' police talk

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats celebrate last June after they passed the George Floyd Policing Act. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images

As Congress forges ahead with police reform legislation, Democratic operatives are warning lawmakers to steer clear of any defund-the-police rhetoric since it could hurt them in the midterms.

Why it matters: President Biden and his fellow Democrats say Congress needs to pass the George Floyd Policing Act, which would ban chokeholds, prohibit no-knock warrants and generally make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct.

Exclusive: Harris meets Guatemalan president Monday, travels in June

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet virtually Monday with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to discuss solutions to the surge of migration, and she'll visit the region in June, a senior White House official told Axios.

Why it matters: The administration is taking a multi-pronged approach to solving the problem and also hopes to announce details about its plan for investing aid in Central America on Monday — although a final dollar amount has yet to be decided.

Scoop: Government pays for some sponsors to pick up migrant kids

MIgrant minors play soccer at a holding facility in Donna, Texas. Photo: Dario Lopez-Mills/AFP via Getty Images

The federal government has been paying travel costs for adult sponsors trying to get to shelters to pick up migrant children, a Department of Health and Human Services agency spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Officials would not provide numbers, but the policy shift underscores the urgency the Biden administration feels to quickly release kids who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone and remain in HHS custody.