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WASHINGTON — The new leaders of the Senate’s powerful health committee kicked off the year with a hearing aimed at one of the very few topics they broadly agree is worth their time — reducing doctor and nursing shortages across the nation.

Both Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and ranking member Bill Cassidy (R-La.) have cited tackling health workforce problems as one of their top priorities — and Sanders is already eyeing legislation on the topic, he said at Thursday’s hearing. From there, however, the two top senators diverge, with Sanders plunging ahead on plans to interrogate pharmaceutical company executives on high drug costs and Cassidy pressing for probes into how the Biden administration has implemented a law he co-authored to end patients’ surprise medical bills.


But even on the bipartisan island that is bolstering physician and nursing staff, there are some divides.

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