A rally in support of the Affordable Care Act is planned for Saturday in Aiken.
Our Revolution South Carolina and the Aiken County Democratic Party are co-sponsoring the rally, which will be held near the fountain on Newberry Street in downtown Aiken from noon to 2 p.m.
Our Revolution is an organization that was set up to carry on 2016 presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' vision and ideas, said Pete LaBerge, a member of the statewide group.
"Basically what it does is support progressive candidates and progressive issues," said LaBerge, who also is connected with the Aiken County Democratic Party.
Saturday's rally defending the ACA, often referred to as "Obamacare," will feature local political leaders, as well people who are using the ACA now.
Aiken City Councilwoman Gail Diggs and Arik Bjorn, 2016 Democratic candidate for U.S. House District 2, are expected at the rally. LaBerge said S.C. Rep. Bill Clyburn, D-Aiken, also has been invited, and organizers are hoping other leaders from Aiken and District 2 will come out.
LaBerge added he's also reached out to representatives from Planned Parenthood and the Clyburn Center for Primary Care.
"Just as important as those folks, we are going to have people who are using the ACA now," he said. "We're hoping to get a crowd who want to tell their story about how the ACA has helped them and then also the local leaders."
A majority Republican Congress has made clear its intention to repeal former President Barack Obama's signature 2010 health care law and replace it, though critics argue the law should not be repealed without a plan to put in its place.
"It's really a rally where we want to involve everyone, because we feel it's extremely important," LaBerge said. "There's 250,000 (people) in South Carolina signed up for the ACA. It's the highest since the act was passed in 2010."
Organizers said they also are asking the state of South Carolina accept the expanded Medicaid portion of the Affordable Care Act, which LaBerge said has left thousands without coverage.
"We're asking Gov. McMaster to accept that for South Carolina and we're also asking (U.S. Rep.) Joe Wilson who voted to repeal the ACA 19 times to respond," he said.
Wilson has previously said the ACA has raised premiums and adversely affected employers.
LaBarge said many agree the health care law is not perfect, but he's hoping lawmakers are open to fixing it.
One of the problems in South Carolina, he said, is that Blue Cross Blue Shield is now the lone heath care provider, limiting choice and competition, "and so, for some people, the premiums are higher than they should be."
"We're saying fix the problem; don't throw it out," he said.
People who are planning to attend Saturday's rally are encouraged to bring signs and there also will be chants they can participate in.
Aiken County Democratic Party Chairman Harold Crawford said he supports the rally.
"I feel that any effort to dismantle the patient protection Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is abominable and I support every effort to defend said act," Crawford said.