As I traveled throughout the 1st District of Maine this year, I heard over and over again that Mainers are concerned about access to health care.

Mothers, fathers and caretakers told me about their family members and loved ones trying to make it without health care coverage because of the financial burden. Despite a strong foundation of consumer protections and financial assistance created under the Affordable Care Act, attempts to undermine the law have had a serious impact on costs. While I look forward to Maine finally implementing Medicaid expansion in the coming months and working with my colleagues in Congress to prioritize ACA stabilization and affordability, it is important to know that there are lots of coverage options available right now.

Mainers have been surprised to learn that there are affordable options available at the click of a button to cover them and their families. During this period of open enrollment, eight out of 10 Mainers can find a health care plan for $75 or less this year at

Despite the affordable options and strong consumer demand for quality, comprehensive coverage, the current administration is doing everything it can to make sure people don’t get the basic information they need to sign up for health care coverage. Since coming into office, the administration has taken significant steps to undermine health care open enrollment. Last year, they cut the enrollment period in half — from 90 days to 45 days — and slashed the advertising and outreach budget by 90 percent. This doesn’t sound like a president who wants, as he claims, “to have insurance for everybody.”

The results of this sabotage were drastic: The reduction in the outreach budget alone led to 1.1 million fewer people getting covered. Miraculously, however, nearly 12 million people signed up for coverage in last year’s open enrollment period — almost 100 percent of the previous year’s enrollment numbers. This was all thanks to the people who stepped up to get information on enrolling to their neighbors, friends and family amid the Trump administration’s dereliction of duty.

We need to do the same thing this year — in order to get people covered, and to show the administration that no amount of sabotage can deter consumers in Maine and across the country from getting the affordable coverage they need. In a new Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking poll, almost four out of five people who are uninsured or buy their own insurance don’t know that the deadline is this Saturday. Thousands of Mainers are at risk of not having health care coverage in 2019 because they just don’t know that now is the time to sign up for it.

And with a vast majority of Mainers eligible for financial help that lowers their monthly premiums, there’s no reason not to explore what might be available for you and your family.

The unfortunate truth is that we are all one illness or injury away from bankruptcy if we do not have quality health care coverage. While we still have work to do to ensure that quality, affordable coverage is available to all, it is vitally important that every Mainer know the facts about the plans that are available and the assistance that they may be eligible for. The greatest gift we can give ourselves and our families this holiday season is the sense of security and peace of mind knowing that we have quality health care coverage.

You can enroll for health care coverage for 2019 at Free help is available if you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional; simply call 1-800-318-2596, visit or make a one-on-one appointment now.

Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, represents Maine’s 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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