A Democrat running for the 3rd District congressional seat wants to make a political issue of Rep. Howard C. Nielson's recent vote against making catastrophic illness coverage a part of the Medicare program.

Craig Oliver, one of two Democrats challenging Nielson's bid for a fourth two-year term, called the Utah Republican's vote "a disgrace to our state and an abomination to the 30 million senior citizens in this country who will benefit from this legislation."In a statement issued this week, Oliver, a West Jordan real estate broker, pointed out that Nielson disagreed with President Reagan on the catastrophic insurance issue.

The legislation recently passed both houses of Congress.

Protecting the life savings of senior citizens from the draining effects of catastrophic illness is a national priority, and Utahns should note Nielson's position on the issue, Oliver said.

"In his six years in office, (ielson) has voted yes on every bill to increase defense spending that has come before Congress, all in the name of national security," he said. "Nielson's no vote on the catastrophic illness bill clearly demonstrates he has no idea just what national security really is."