Veterans Choice program is hot topic during candidate’s visit to VA Medical Center

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BY MARK HAYWARD

Invited to a meeting with the top brass at the Manchester VA Medical Center, Mayor Ted Gatsas said on Wednesday that he didn’t make it through the front door before hearing a complaint about the Veterans Choice system.

Gatsas, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, said he’s convinced New Hampshire has to become more involved in addressing problems with veteran health care, even though that is a benefit provided by the U.S. government.

He said most of the issues that arose during Wednesday’s visit dealt with Veterans Choice, the program that allows veterans to go outside the VA health system to seek medical care. Nearly all New Hampshire veterans are eligible for the program, thanks to a carve-out in federal law.

But a veteran sitting in the parking lot told Gatsas he’s been waiting six days for approval of a medical procedure, the mayor said.

“I think we have to sit down at a table and come up with a New Hampshire solution,” Gatsas said. “New Hampshire’s solutions are usually pretty good compared to federal solutions.”

Gatsas, 65, said he became eligible for the Vietnam War draft on the first year of the lottery, and he drew a high number so he was not called to serve.

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