One week after Election Day, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that could determine the future of the Affordable Care Act and health care coverage for millions of Americans. The Trump administration and Republicans are asking the court to overturn the ACA, which would gut patient protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions and over 62,000 Mainers who gained health care through Medicaid expansion.

Everywhere I’ve been across our state, the No. 1 issue people want to talk about is access to quality, affordable health care. I’ve met people like Jeffrey from South Portland, whose wife had breast cancer and son has epilepsy. Before the ACA, their pre-existing conditions were not covered by his insurance. Coverage for them was unaffordable. But thanks to the health care law, his family was able to find affordable coverage that worked for them. If the Republican lawsuit is successful, people like Jeffrey and his family could be put in an impossible position.

Unfortunately, Sen. Susan Collins has put partisan politics ahead of Mainers’ health care. Over the past four years, she’s been a key vote for Mitch McConnell’s and Donald Trump’s effort to reshape the judiciary, voting to put scores of far-right, unqualified judges on the federal bench – including the Supreme Court – who could put Mainers’ health care at risk.

And now, McConnell and Trump are trying to ram through a new Supreme Court nomination to cement the court’s conservative majority for a generation, just weeks before the oral arguments in the Republican lawsuit begin. This November, the stakes could not be higher – health care is on the ballot.

In fact, the Republican lawsuit to overturn the ACA would not be possible if it weren’t for Sen. Collins’ key vote to pass the Republican tax bill. The Trump administration has said that Senate Republicans “knowingly voted to destroy” the ACA when they voted for the tax bill. Sen. Collins understood the danger her vote posed to the ACA – she made that clear by signing an amicus brief arguing the Affordable Care Act should be overturned in 2012 – but when she was asked about her vote for the tax bill in the context of that threat, Sen. Collins said she did not regret her vote “at all.” She voted against the ACA when it was passed in 2010, and since then, she has voted at least a dozen times to repeal or undermine it.

Mainers deserve better – they deserve a senator who puts their health, and the health of their loved ones, first. That’s exactly what I’ll do in the Senate.

I will work to build on the Affordable Care Act, so that more Americans can find quality, affordable health care coverage. I’ll support the creation of a public option, so that anyone who wants to buy in to Medicare can do so, and I’ll work to improve Medicare to make it more affordable.

I will crack down on the pharmaceutical companies and work to lower the price of prescription drugs, to make sure that Mainers don’t have to choose between filling a prescription or putting food on the table.

I will fight to bolster rural health care, and address the long-standing health disparities plaguing Maine’s rural communities. I’ll work to strengthen and expand telemedicine, increase reimbursement rates for rural health care providers and recruit new doctors and nurses to our state’s rural regions.

I will protect reproductive rights – including by voting against extremist, anti-choice judges who are hostile to Roe v. Wade. And I will work to address the opioid crisis by helping expand access to treatment, education and prevention efforts.

If the Affordable Care Act is overturned, the party in control of the Senate will determine whether we restore and expand health care, or whether Mainers like Jeffrey will be left behind by Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins, who have worked to dismantle health care for years and have said they have no plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Your vote in the Senate race will determine that.

No matter what proposals are put forward in the Senate, I will always look at them with Mainers like Jeffrey in mind. They deserve a senator who will protect and expand their access to health care, and I won’t rest until every Mainer can get the care they need.

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