Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the subject of fierce criticism on Monday after it was announced he will head to Canada to have major hernia surgery, repairing injuries sustained when he was brutally attacked by his neighbor in Kentucky.
Paul was attacked by neighbor Rene Boucher in 2017 while doing yard work. Boucher, who potentially faced serious prison time, later pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress and served 30 days in jail.
What was the criticism?
Upon Paul's announcement, the media seized on the apparent irony: Paul, a fierce critic of universal health care and socialism as a whole, is being forced to concede his principles in order to receive the best care possible, which will come from the land of socialized medicine.
The Courier Journal, Paul's local Kentucky newspaper, made light of the apparent irony, spending more than half its story drawing attention to the fact that a staunch opponent of socialized medicine was planning to receive care in a country with universal health care.
The Daily Beast, a left-leaning outlet, tweeted: "Sen. Rand Paul—one of the fiercest critics of socialized medicine—is heading to Canada for surgery."
Talking Points Memo, also left-leaning news outlet, tweeted:
Rand Paul, enemy of socialized medicine, will go to Canada for surgery https://t.co/8TESKnG0oB pic.twitter.com/w5sdzSkhq1
— Talking Points Memo (@TPM) January 14, 2019
Is the criticism true?
The apparent irony is just that — apparent.
Paul is not leaving the U.S. to receive superior care in the name of socialism. Instead, the outpatient hospital where Paul is scheduled for surgery later this month — Shouldice Hernia Hospital — is a world renowned hospital known as the "global leader in non-mesh hernia repair."
What's more, the hospital is not owned by the Canadian government. Rather, the hospital remains privately owned, grandfathered into the Canadian health care system when the country implemented universal health care years ago. Additionally, Paul will pay for his surgery in cash; he is suing Boucher for the cost of the procedure.
Doug Stafford, chief strategist for Paul, called the procedure the "literally the opposite of socialized medicine."
Attention fact-challenged media: “More fake news on a story that has been reported terribly from day one - this is a PRIVATE, world renowned hospital and people come from around the world to PAY CASH for their services." It's literally the opposite of socialized medicine.
— Doug Stafford (@dougstafford) January 14, 2019
Kelsey Cooper, a Paul spokeswoman, similarly characterized the criticism as "fake news."
"This is more fake news on a story that has been terribly reported from day one — this is a private, world renowned hospital separate from any system and people come from around the world to pay cash for their service," she said, according to the Courier Journal.