Nevada for Health Care seeks voter commitment

Nevada for Health Care is calling on voters to make affordable health care for everyone a key in selecting candidates from president down to local officials.

The project was organized by the Service Employees International Union, which offers health care to its members. Amber Lasater of Nevada for Health Care said SEIU decided to make it an issue because they say the current system is "broken" and doesn't provide coverage to all.

The group is touring Nevada offering mock caucuses to encourage voters to participate and take the pledge. Its parent group, Americans for Health Care, is running similar campaigns in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Colorado and Oregon.

Lasater said 500,000 voters nationally and 12,000 in Nevada have taken the organization's pledge.

Samantha Galing Gaddy, director of the campaign, said those voters have pledged "to only vote for a presidential candidate that will make health care a top priority."

She said seven Democrats in the race have developed health care proposals: Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson. Three Republicans, she said, have laid out partial plans: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

She said health-care voters will introduce planks at Nevada's caucuses calling for health care for all. But she said it will be up to voters to select which candidate and which plan they like best, that the organization has simply listed four broad criteria.

The plan offered must provide quality, affordable health care for all with no gaps, preventative care, controlled costs and shared financing.

Before the caucuses, Galing Gaddy said, the organization will provide voters and the media with an analysis of the plans offered by presidential hopefuls.

The statewide tour began Friday and continues through Sunday. Events already have been held in Mesquite, Overton, Las Vegas, Pahrump, Beatty, Tonopah, Hawthorne, Yerington and Gardnerville.

They were in Carson City and Reno Wednesday, in Fallon and Fernley today, Friday in Lovelock and Winnemucca, Saturday in Elko and Sunday in Ely.

"We want to make sure that everyone knows how easy it is to participate in the upcoming caucuses," Gaddy said.

"It's important that they feel comfortable with the process and make their voices heard," she said.

• The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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