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Critics: Sanborn should resign from committee

Republican senator targeted by Democrats who say his role in Medicaid group was compromised by jet crash comments

CONCORD — The N.H. Democratic Party and N.H. Citizens Alliance for Action are calling for Sen. Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford) to resign from the Medicaid Expansion Study Commission after he reportedly compared the Affordable Care Act to the San Francisco plane crash on July 6 that killed three passengers and wounded nearly 200 others.

Sanborn said on July 9 as a guest host on radio station WTPL 107.7 FM — which services the Manchester and Concord areas — that the Affordable Care Act is “barreling down on us like a jet landing in San Francisco. It should make people really concerned.” The remark came shortly after an Asiana Airlines jet crashed at San Francisco International Airport that killed three people.

Sanborn has since apologized in an interview with WMUR, saying, “It was my mistake. If I offended anyone, I am sorry.” He did not return messages left by the Ledger-Transcript last week and could not be reached for comment by press time Monday.

Senate President Peter Bragdon (R-Milford), who appointed Sanborn to sit on the state commission, said Monday that certain groups are calling for Sanborn’s resignation because they don’t like the fact that he has expressed skepticism about Medicaid expansion. The purpose of the bipartisan commission is to have representatives from all sides of the political aisle.

When asked about the statements Sanborn made on WPTL, Bragdon said, “I haven’t seen the comments, but I’ve heard about them. It seems like it was certainly a poor choice of words and comparison to make.”

According to published reports, Sanborn has refused to step down from the state commission and has said his comments on WTPL were taken out of context.

The Medicaid Expansion Study Commission was established as a part of the new budget law to study whether or not New Hampshire should enter into Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” The bipartisan commission met for the first time on July 8, and faces an Oct. 15 deadline for issuing its recommendations.

Harrell Kirstein, spokesperson for the N.H. Democratic Party, wrote in an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Friday that Sanborn and the commission’s 10 other members were “charged with taking a serious look at Medicaid expansion, [which] could provide nearly 60,000 New Hampshire residents with health insurance, create 700 new jobs and stimulate the economy to the tune of $2.5 billion. Senator Sanborn’s comments were heartless and show that he clearly has no interest in taking Medicaid expansion, or this commission seriously.”

Kary Jencks, interim executive director of the N.H. Citizens Alliance, is quoted in a recent press release as saying that she agreed with the Democratic Party that, in light of Sanborn’s recent statements, he “is not an appropriate legislator to serve on the Medicaid expansion study commission.”

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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