FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes called Thursday for fairness for Americans who have experienced technical difficulties in trying to signup up for health insurance coverage through the federal government's online marketplace.
Grimes said it makes sense to extend the March 31 enrollment deadline and postpone the $95 penalty for people who fail to meet the deadline for acquiring coverage.
Grimes, the Democratic front-runner in Kentucky's U.S. Senate primary race, is among a growing number of candidates expressing displeasure with the glitches with the federal website that prevented people from signing up.
"There are many Americans who have experienced technical problems through no fault of their own," Grimes said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Those Americans who wish to sign up should be given fair flexibility to do so. Extending the enrollment deadline and delaying the mandate until the website issues are resolved makes sense."
Grimes is seeking her party's nomination to run against Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, an ardent critic of the health care overhaul.
A handful of Democratic incumbents have already taken the same stand as Grimes, despite having united against Republican efforts earlier this month to delay implementation of the reforms for a year. The Democrats contend that it's not fair to hold millions of Americans accountable for buying insurance when they can't use the federal government's website to do so.
In Kentucky, which is operating a separate state-operated website to shop for medical coverage, the signups have been going more smoothly.
So far, more than 26,000 Kentuckians have signed up for medical coverage through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, the vast majority of whom will become Medicaid recipients.
Gov. Steve Beshear released updated enrollment numbers Thursday showing 21,342 people have been enrolled in Medicaid program and another 4,832 in private insurance plans since Oct. 1.
Coverage won't begin until Jan. 1 for the new enrollees.
More than 300,000 people have visited Kentucky's online marketplace, nearly 268,000 of who conducted pre-screenings to determine eligibility for Medicaid or for government subsidies to buy private insurance.
Kentucky has about 640,000 uninsured residents.