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U.S. Republican Sen. Rand Paul coming to Canada for surgery

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul plans to undergo hernia surgery at a private hospital in Canada because of injuries he suffered when a neighbour tackled him while he was doing yard work at his Kentucky home.

Kentucky politician has been outspoken critic of Obamacare, big government initiatives

Republican Sen. Rand Paul, seen here in September 2018, is planning to undergo hernia surgery in Canada. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul plans to undergo hernia surgery at a private hospital in Canada because of injuries he suffered when a neighbour tackled him while he was doing yard work at his Kentucky home.

The Republican lawmaker is scheduled to cross the border for outpatient surgery scheduled sometime during the week of Jan. 21 at a hospital in Thornhill, Ont., his lawyers said in a recent filing in Paul's lawsuit against Rene Boucher, who attacked Paul while the senator was doing yard work.

The surgery is related to the 2017 attack, the court document says. 

Paul is scheduled for surgery at Shouldice Hospital, which touts itself as a world leader in "non-mesh hernia repair."

"This is a private, world-renowned hospital separate from any system and people come from around the world to pay cash for their services," Paul spokesperson Kelsey Cooper said in an email Monday.

In choosing Shouldice, Paul will receive care in a country that offers its citizens a publicly funded, universal health-care system that runs counter to Paul's approach to American health-care policy.

Shouldice was one of a handful of private hospitals grandfathered under the health-care system framework when the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) was introduced in the early 1970s. Canadians who undergo treatment at the clinic can receive coverage depending on their provincial health-care plan.

Paul, who ran for president in 2016, touts private-market approaches for U.S. health care problems and has been one of the most vocal opponents of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. He was also one of just nine Republican senators who went against legislation proposed by his party to repeal ACA in 2017, arguing it didn't go far enough.

Shouldice Hernia Hospital in Thornhill, Ont. (Google Maps)

Paul's chief strategist, Doug Stafford, pointed to Shouldice Hospital's private status in pushing back against media reports about the senator going to Canada for treatment. "It's literally the opposite of socialized medicine," he tweeted.

The hernia procedure is estimated to cost $5,000 to $8,000 US, the court document said.

Paul suffered multiple broken ribs in the incident. Boucher has said the attack was triggered by Paul stacking debris near their property line in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and that he "lost his temper."

Criminal case still unresolved

Boucher pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress and was sentenced to 30 days in prison. Federal prosecutors are appealing the sentence, saying 21 months would have been appropriate.

Paul sued Boucher last year seeking damages for physical pain and mental suffering from the attack. A jury trial is scheduled to begin late this month in Bowling Green.

Rene Boucher, centre, appears in court for an arraignment hearing with his attorney Matt Baker, left. Prosecutors say Paul suffered chronic pain months after being tackled while doing yard work at his Kentucky home and Boucher's 30-day sentence was unreasonable for such an 'inexplicable and violent assault.' (Austin Anthony /Daily News/Associated Press)

"After presenting our evidence to the court and jury, we will ask the jury to carefully consider all evidence and to make a fair allowance based upon the entirety of the facts and circumstances related to this attack and plaintiff's injuries," Paul's attorneys said in the filing.

Paul's lawyers also said a biomechanics expert is prepared to testify that Paul's injuries were similar to those from a 40 km/h car crash.

Boucher's attorney, Matt Baker, said Monday that "we're in the process of getting ready for trial."

Baker said Boucher has made a $30,000 offer of judgment to Paul.