Originally on WLOS 13

December 18, 2018

A court battle is on to protect more than a half-million North Carolinians who get insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s exchange.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says the ruling in the Texas courts affects both ACA customers and those with private insurance. According to Stein, doing away with the ACA could have an effect on health care costs for anyone with a pre-existing condition or those who get lower prescription costs, because of the ACA.

Pete Fashano has been a barber for three years.

“I just enjoy seeing the art part of it,” he said. “Someone comes in not looking good, and leaves looking good.”

But as is with most small businesses, it’s a job that doesn't come with health benefits.

“I like having a primary doctor I see regularly. You build a relationship, plus the prescriptions alone, you know they're almost $300 without insurance, you're talking $3,600 a year,” Fashano said.

So the Texas court ruling that threatens the Affordable Care Act's exchanges where Fashano and a half-million other North Carolinians get insurance is a concern.

Pisgah Legal's managing attorney says right now, for those who just enrolled, the most important thing you can do is pay your first premium.

“Health insurance and the plans that you're enrolling in for 2019, those premiums have been set, those plans are secure, and we are really focused on making sure people are paying that first premium,” said Jackie Kiger of Pisgah Legal.

North Carolina Attorney General, Josh Stein, has already involved North Carolina in the legal battle.

“The big fight here is these folks are trying to undermine the delivery of health care for millions of North Carolinians, I refuse to accept that,” Stein said.

The motion he and a coalition of 17 attorneys general filed asks the court to make it clear that the Affordable Care Act is the law for now.

“We will not stop until it becomes clear to everyone, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and if you benefit from it, if you're one of the millions of North Carolinians that benefit from the ACA, you can rest assured you will keep that benefit."

The Friday December 14 ruling will be appealed to the court of appeals, and potentially the Supreme Court, and could take the court beyond 2019 to sort out.