RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan said Thursday the Obama administration should delay by two months the period in which individuals can sign up for health insurance through the new government website and when financial penalties begin for those remaining uninsured.
Hagan announced her call while identifying problems with the federal exchange as "absolutely unacceptable." She said extra enrollment and penalty delays are needed to make up for lost time while the site has not been functioning.
"North Carolinians are frustrated that they haven't been able to enroll in health insurance plans, and I am just as frustrated," Hagan said in a prepared statement.
The open enrollment began Oct. 1 and lasts until March 31. The White House says consumers who sign up through March should not face the financial penalty that was scheduled to start in mid-February.
Hagan, a Democrat, wants to extend enrollment through May 31 and delay the penalty until after that date, too.
"An extension would provide time to assess the extent of the problems and determine whether additional delays in the individual mandate are necessary," Hagan said, but preferred to keep the pressure on "to get these problems fixed sooner rather than later."
The Obama administration, Hagan added, must be fully transparent in efforts to get the web portal working and improve their communication with Americans about the health care rollout.
Hagan's statement came as leading contractors on the website told a House committee Thursday the government failed to test the system thoroughly before it went live.
The announced Republican primary hopefuls seeking Hagan's job in next year's election are opposed to the new health care overhaul and want it ultimately repealed.