10 things to know about Rand Paul's medical career, healthcare views

Republican Sen. Rand Paul, MD, of Kentucky officially announced Tuesday his presidential bid, becoming the second candidate for Republican nomination after Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Here are 10 things to know about the libertarian conservative's medical career and healthcare views.

1. Dr. Paul, 52, practiced ophthalmology for 18 years before becoming a senator in 2010. Dr. Paul moved to Bowling Green, Ky., in 1993. There he worked for Downing McPeak Vision Centers and the Gilbert Graves Clinic for about 15 years combined before launching his own ophthalmology practice in town.

2. Dr. Paul earned his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., in 1988. After that, he completed his general surgery internship at Atlanta-based Georgia Baptist Medical Center, followed by a residency in ophthalmology at Duke University Medical Center, completing his training in 1993. Despite his extensive medical training, Dr. Paul does not hold a bachelor's degree, according to NPR. He attended Waco, Texas-based Baylor University to study biology and English, but left a few courses short of a diploma after he was accepted into medical school.

3. His ophthalmology certification is contested. He originally earned board certification in 1993 after the completion of his residency. However, in 1997 he formed his own board, called the National Ophthalmology Board, with 200 other physicians in protest of certification requirement changes by the American Board of Ophthalmologists. The now-defunct board was not recognized by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure, so Dr. Paul was not board certified by a board recognized by the state since 2005, and since Dr. Paul's board dissolved in 2011, he has had no certification from an active body, according to the Washington Post. Kentucky state law does not require board certification for licensure.

4. Dr. Paul was involved in expanding access to eye care in his community and abroad. He founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic in 1995 to provide patients and families in need with eye exams and surgeries. In 2002, he was awarded with the Twilight Wish Foundation Outstanding Service and Commitment to Seniors award, and he has performed many pro-bono eye surgeries for patients in Kentucky and in other countries through the Children of the Americas Program.

5. Dr. Paul does not support the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. His campaign website reads, "I was not a member of the U.S. Senate during the 111th Congress, but if I had been I would have voted against Obamacare. As your president, one of my first acts would be to repeal the abomination that is Obamacare."

6. Dr. Paul is in favor of a free-market approach to healthcare. He says he believes increased government interventions drive up the cost of coverage and decrease competition. As a senator, he publically supported making medical expenses tax deductible, allowing businesses to provide coverage, allowing physicians to negotiate costs with insurance companies and Health Savings Accounts.

7. He believes in higher Medicare deductibles and moving to a premium support system. In a 2010 interview, Dr. Paul said "You want to have more participation by the person who's receiving the entitlement. By that I mean that they need to be more involved with some sort of economic transaction every time they use their entitlement, and that means they have to bear more of the burden," according to Bloomberg Business. Dr. Paul supports a premium support system for Medicare, which would give seniors the ability to choose between traditional Medicare and private insurance on an exchange, according to Vox.

8. Dr. Paul supports vaccines, but believes they should be voluntary. "I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines," Dr. Paul said, according to CNN. "I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they're a good thing. But I think the parents should have some input." He later followed up and said he is vaccinated, his children are vaccinated, he supports vaccines and he does not believe they cause disorders, but that they are "temporally related."

9. His comments on Ebola have also garnered media attention. In an interview with CNN last October, Dr. Paul shared the following comments: "[The Obama administration] has downplayed how transmissible [Ebola] is. They say it's the exchange of bodily of fluids. Which makes people think, 'Oh, it's like AIDS. It's very difficult to catch.'

"If someone has Ebola at a cocktail party, they're contagious and you can catch it from them," Dr. Paul continued. "[The administration] should be honest about that."

10. Dr. Paul believes medical marijuana is a state's rights issue, not a federal one. He recently teamed up with two Democrats to introduce a bill that would protect medical marijuana buyers and sellers from federal prosecution in states where marijuana is legal for medical and recreational purposes. He has also supported lessening the sentence for nonviolent marijuana offenders.


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