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Reality Check: What a challenge to the Affordable Care Act could mean for you

Josh Boyd is adjusting to life without the use of his legs (Photo credit: WLOS)

A new effort to get rid of the Affordable Care Act is playing out in the courtroom. The legal challenge could jeopardize coverage for people with preexisting conditions.

Insurance provides protection from possible risk. Selling this protection is a new career for Josh Boyd.

"I know you want to get the lowest price, but, you know, let's look and see what would happen in the event of an accident, because, obviously, they happen," Boyd said.

He knows how true his own statement is. Falling 30 feet off a ladder in October left him paraplegic. Adjusting to life in a wheelchair is a process.

"This situation's not fun. I don't like it at all, but it's something I've got to deal with. I'm trying to make the best of it, besides the fact I have a 5-year-old little boy that needs to see that sometimes things happen in life, and you have to overcome those," Boyd said.

When Boyd fell, he didn't have insurance.

"I just figured I could take a year off. Unfortunately, I got hurt."

With the help of Pisgah Legal Services, Boyd said he now has insurance through the Affordable Care Act. What he also has is a pre-existing condition, and coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is in jeopardy.

"There continues to be a challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act," said Jackie Kiger, from Pisgah Legal Services.

A new lawsuit filed by some state attorneys general calls for the ACA to be deemed unconstitutional.

"I've had so much on my mind, but that's another thing that I have thought about. I definitely have to be prepared for whatever comes and have an option to try to figure that out," he said.

The lawsuit's case can be read about in-depth here, but the argument centers around the individual mandate requiring people to have insurance. The mandate still exists, but last year's tax law eliminated the penalty for not having insurance. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional, because the penalty was deemed a tax. With the penalty now at zero, the lawsuit argues the law is unconstitutional.

"Many people are very concerned about this law that has offered the protection to provide quality coverage for so many people living with pre-existing health conditions," Kiger said.

Usually, the federal government defends its laws, but that's not happening in this case.

"This is not very common," Kiger said.

Instead of defending the law, the federal government argues insurance companies should be able to deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Without the safety net of insurance, Boyd said he wouldn't be able to afford health care.

"I don't know what I would be able to do without it. Between the ongoing prescriptions and medical supplies that I need, it would have been too much, the financial burden was going to be extensive," Boyd said.

He hopes he doesn't have to adjust to life without the ACA as he adjusts to life without the use of his legs.

"I pretty much accepted it right then and there, like, OK, I've got a fight on my hands. I've got to figure out how I'm going to deal with this," he said.

Kiger said this court case is just getting started and could take years. Some state attorneys general are defending the law in place of the federal government. That group includes North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

“People all across our state are struggling to make ends meet at the same time they need life-saving health care treatment. I will do all I can to protect their access to the health care they need to live happy, healthy lives," Stein said.


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