WASHINGTON — South Carolina’s chief insurance regulator urged U.S. senators to continue funding payments to make insurance more affordable for those buying on the private market.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that state Department of Insurance Director Ray Farmer testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on Thursday about stabilizing the health insurance marketplace. He encouraged the renewal of the cost-sharing reduction program established by the Affordable Care Act, arguing that without the government fulfilling its obligations, insurance prices on the individual market will skyrocket next year.

He also expressed concern about South Carolina’s rural counties.

Farmer has been a critic of the ACA, but said his primary goal is protecting the consumer.