Comparing congressmen who obstruct funding the government because of the newly imposed Affordable Care Act "to 9-year-olds in a food fight," Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday nearly 90,000 Kentuckians have explored their health care options with the state's website, Kynect.ky.gov.
Technical glitches on the website marred Tuesday's first day of open enrollment, making it difficult for some people to sign up for a policy. About 2,000 people signed up for coverage.
But, Beshear said, many people were able to explore their health care options through the website making it, "one of the most exciting days I have had since I have been governor."
Beshear choked up a bit during his first public appearance since Kentucky's health care program went into affect. At a press conference at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center Wednesday, there was a catch in Beshear's voice after he talked about how improved health care will make a real difference in the lives of the 640,000 Kentuckians currently uninsured.
"I am proud to be a part of it," he said.
A computer kiosk offering direct access to Kynect.ky.gov, one of 150 to be installed around the state, was unveiled in the hospital lobby.
Tuesday's website glitches have been repaired with technicians restoring Kynect.ky.gov to full functioning by 3 p.m. Tuesday, and they worked through the night to make sure other problems didn't arise, said Audrey Haynes, head of the state Department for Health & Family Services.
While the system had been tested before going live Tuesday, the sheer volume of users proved overwhelming, she said.
Dr. Michael Karpf, UK's executive vice president for health affairs, said the hospital will continue to treat the uninsured but will also help them sign up for insurance if they are eligible under the new state program.
When asked why Kentucky hasn't released a complete array of rates while some other states have, Haynes said she "wasn't sure how those states were able to release rates."
What people will actually pay, she said, is dependent on too many variables — age, where a person lives, if a person smokes, how many people in their household and which company and level of insurance they pick — for a list of "sticker prices" to have any value to consumers.
Beshear said 92 percent of Kentuckians will receive payment assistance of some kind.
During the news conference Beshear was part politician and part pitchman as he repeatedly spelled out the web address — "K-Y-N-E-C-T, dot, K-Y, dot, G-O-V" — and recited the information line number— 1-855-459-6328.
The opening of the overall program of Kynect, pronounced "connect," has put Beshear and the state in the national spotlight. Kentucky is one of only 17 states and the only Southern state to create a state-based health care program.
After the news conference Beshear hustled off to do an interview with CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who was Lexington Wednesday reporting for a special program on health care reform.