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July 30, 2014

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Vigils held in support of health care reform, public option

More than 300 rallies planned nationwide by MoveOn.org

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

People in Boulder City chant in unison, “We want reform now” during a candlelight vigil sponsored by MoveOn.org in support of health care reform.

Health care reform vigil

Mary Venable, who is uninsurable because of a pre-existing condition, joins Rudi Kraft in holding signs and candles in support of health care reform during a candlelight vigil Sept. 2 in Boulder City. Launch slideshow »

About 40 people gathered on a dirt lot in downtown Boulder City Wednesday night to show support for health care reform.

The vigil was one of more than 300 planned as part of a nationwide effort by the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org. A second vigil was held at the same time in front of University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

Those who had gathered in Boulder City carried candles and signs and told stories that illustrated the ways they see the current health care system failing.

Dina Wawers said she suffered a spinal injury two years ago in a fall and is no longer able to work. For the past two years, she has tried to get onto Social Security disability and has been denied. She is appealing but, in the meantime, she has no health insurance, she said.

Not everyone was in agreement on the issue.

The vigil drew one vocal critic who shouted an expletive-laced commentary from the window of his SUV.

“Pay your own bills,” he yelled, calling the group “parasites.”

“I knew that was going to happen,” Wawers said.

Speech and language pathologist Valerie McNay told the group she has good health insurance through the Clark County School District, but she thinks the money it costs could be better spent on educating children.

In addition, she said, her family is having difficulty getting a health insurer to pay on a long-term care policy her mother has had since 1994 now that her mother has dementia and needs in-home care.

In addition, McNay said, her mother has to continue to pay the $3,800 annual premiums on the policy.

“Something has to change,” she said. “We need health insurance reform now.”

Nicola Collins captured all of the stories on video to send to the national group. Collins may also put together a show for local cable on BCTV, vigil organizer Barbara Polk said.

The purpose of the vigil was to show support for the health insurance public option proposed by President Barack Obama, Polk said.

“Everyone is just one incident away from losing their livelihood or life,” said Cassie Rice, a Henderson business owner.

Ian Smith, who identified himself as a firefighter and emergency medical technician for eight years, said he recalled patients refusing care because they were afraid of the hospital bills or that insurance would not cover their care.

After being laid off from a previous job, he said, he cannot get health coverage because of a pre-existing condition. That has left him and his five children without coverage, he said.

After a half-hour of stories, Polk urged those gathered to call their senators and representatives in Congress to support the public option.

She said she was pleased with the turnout.

“I would have been pleased if it had been three, but that we got 40 was pretty good,” she said. “It should have been 100 times that, but we’ll take it.”

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