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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009 13 years ago

Doc wants vacant U.S.Senate seat

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Dr. Julio Gonzalez, a Venice orthopaedic surgeon and a relatively unknown Republican in political circles, has officially applied for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Orlando.

Dr. Julio Gonzalez, a Venice orthopaedic surgeon and a relatively unknown Republican in political circles, has officially applied for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Orlando.

He tells Coffee Talk that his motivation is simple. Says Gonzalez: “The issue of the eroding ability of doctors to maintain autonomy in the way they treat patients and the increasing burden in practicing medicine.”

Gonzalez says he's the perfect candidate because he understands the health reform issues and has made it clear that he has no sights on running for the seat in 2010. Gonzalez, who says it has pretty much been an individual effort so far, is using his connections with the Florida Medical Association and other medical groups to inundate the governor's office with letters and emails asking Gov. Charlie Crist to appoint a physician to the seat.

Crist is responsible for picking someone to replace Martinez by the time the Senate returns to session early next month.

Gonzalez has scored points among supporters for a resolution he drafted with the backing of the Sarasota Medical Society and the Florida Orthopaedic Society. The resolution requires the FMA to inform the American Medical Association of its opposition to the controversial federal health reform legislation being debated across the country.

Only days earlier, the AMA endorsed the Obama administration's health-care reforms, despite opposition from many smaller states. But Gonzalez felt strongly that the proposal “was completely inconsistent with the principles we espouse as physicians,” and the resolution calls for the AMA to withdraw support of the bill if it contains provisions conflicting with those principles.

Gonzalez knows his chances of being picked by Crist are slim. But he has hope: Members of the governor's staff, he says, have told him “the choice makes sense and would probably be something for the governor to consider.”

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