Maine’s iconic lobstering industry includes some of the hardest working people in the state. However, for too long, affordable health care was out of reach. The Affordable Care Act changed that.

Due to the Affordable Care Act, many lobstermen and women have been able to get health insurance for the first time. In fact, Maine’s lobstering communities, like ours, have seen some of the highest rates of enrollment in the state. But now, a ruling by a Texas judge threatens to take all that away.

Last week, Justice Reed O’Connor of Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, surprising legal experts and lawmakers across the political spectrum. This is unacceptable.

Maine people want more access to quality, affordable health care. They have made this clear at the ballot box and through activism at the State House.

The good news is, the Affordable Care Act will remain in place while the decision of Justice O’Connor is appealed. Sixteen state attorneys general already have promised to appeal. From what we can tell so far, the fate of the Affordable Care Act may wind up in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. That means people in this state who signed up for coverage in 2019 won’t be hurt by the decision of a judge from so far away — for now.

The Affordable Care Act is by no means perfect. But it has protected people with pre-existing conditions from being denied crucial care. Before the ACA, insurance companies could discriminate against individuals with a whole host of common health conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer and even multiple sclerosis. These are conditions where access to health care coverage could mean the difference between life and death.

The ACA also has improved the quality of coverage patients receive by requiring all health insurance plans to cover a list of essential health benefits, such as prescription drugs, hospitalization and maternity care. That means more families can afford needed medication, and expecting mothers can more easily get quality prenatal care.

The ACA also has given Maine parents the opportunity to help their children when they are just starting out in their careers. It ensures more young adults get a strong and healthy start as they transition out of adolescence and into the workforce. It has helped self-employed workers and people without employer-provided coverage get such essential care as life-saving cancer screenings and routine check-ups.

Mainers facing a health care hardship deserve to know the lawmakers they voted for have their backs. Voters told us loud and clear last fall what they value: Fair, low-cost access to health care coverage.

If you slip and fall on ice and hurt yourself, your first thought shouldn’t be whether you can afford to go to the hospital. You shouldn’t have to worry about the specter of bankruptcy while discussing important treatment information with your doctor. And you shouldn’t have to wonder if a health diagnosis today will bar you from coverage tomorrow.

This session, Maine’s lawmakers must come together to take aggressive steps to protect our neighbors’ access to health care. I firmly believe that no one should ever have to choose between seeking treatment for an illness and paying their bills. No one working a demanding, physical job should have to worry about not being able to afford help if they’re injured while working. No one should ever have to lose sleep over the cost of seeking a diagnosis for a health condition.

This session, I vow to work with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure Mainers will be able to keep the health care coverage they want and need. I will work to give Mainers lower premiums, and to stop health insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. I will stand by hard-working families who want to give their children a healthy start in life. As your state senator, I will continue to work for you.

Senator Miramant lives in Camden and represents Senate District 12, which includes nearly all of Knox County.