Libertarian ideology rejects most of the modern regulatory systems that protect consumers, because everyone should be responsible for determining whether the hamburger contains E. coli on his own. But does that do-it-yourself dogma apply to the regulation of medicine, too? If you’re Dr. Rand Paul, practicing ophthalmologist, the answer is emphatically yes.
According to an amusing story in today’s Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Republican Senate candidate bills himself as a “board-certified” physician even though he is not actually certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology — the only recognized body that certifies doctors in his specialty.
Paul’s only certification was provided instead by something called the National Board of Ophthalmology, which is very convenient because he operates that organization himself. As the Courier-Journal explains drily, the American Board of Ophthalmology, which maintains a fully staffed headquarters in Philadelphia, has existed for roughly a century and currently lists about 16,000 doctors on its rolls. (Most hospitals and insurance companies strongly prefer doctors who are board-certified because certification indicates that they have kept up with changes in technology, best practices and so on.) The National Board of Ophthalmology has existed since 1999, when Paul “founded” it, lists no more than seven doctors, and its address is a post-office box in Bowling Green, Ky. He had claimed to be certified by both boards, but Courier-Journal reporter Joseph Gerth quickly discovered that claim was false.
When Gerth tried to ask Paul why he claims to be board-certified when he isn’t and why he set up the National Board of Ophthalmology, the candidate stonewalled:
“I’m not going to go through all that right now,” Paul said while at the Great Eastern National Gun Day Show and JAG Military Show, in Louisville. Asked when he would talk, Paul said: “Uh, you know, never … What does this have to do with our election?”