MIAMI (AP) — When Bruce Bradford was fired after nearly two decades as a federal police officer, he lost his income, his health insurance and eventually his wife and apartment as his medical problems mounted. He ended up being thrown a lifeline by the very politicians he can’t stand.
Bradford, a longtime Republican who dislikes big government and what he regards as handouts, obtained insurance and a monthly government subsidy under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
Before he was terminated, Bradford fell and blew out his knee, missing weeks of work at a time. Then he had flare-ups of diverticulitis that resulted in a hole in his gut. He lost his job while out on sick leave last year.
The 58-year-old Jacksonville resident often ended up in the emergency room because he had no insurance. He sometimes had to go without medication and relied on charity care for half a dozen operations.
He was not eligible for Medicaid, because Florida has some of the most stringent eligibility requirements in the country and the state opted against expanding the program under the federal health care overhaul.
In January, he qualified for Social Security disability. Finally getting a regular income allowed him to buy government-subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. He pays a $340 monthly premium for insurance that requires no co-pays or deductibles; the federal government pays $450 a month toward his premium.
When the coverage took effect, Bradford immediately scheduled doctor’s appointments and filled the nine prescriptions he takes every day.
He acknowledges he would be in trouble without the Democratic-backed health care reforms and struggles to reconcile his feelings about them.
“The dilemma of seeing both sides of the coin … I think about it all the time,” he said.
(He said he believes he lost his job because he was missing work and was unable to perform some of his tasks, and because he was accused of lying about how he was injured on the job. The Pentagon confirmed to The Associated Press that Bradford worked at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville for 17 years and was fired, but would not give details).
Bradford said some parts of “Obamacare” should be repealed, starting with the tax penalties imposed on people who don’t obtain insurance. Yet, he said he favors other parts of the law and believes there should be “some sort of health care safety net.”
Bradford said he will cast his ballot for Donald Trump but acknowledged mixed feelings, knowing a GOP victory could mean the end of the health insurance he badly needs.
And what would he do then?
Bradford said he can’t think that far ahead because he lives in constant pain from his operations.
“If I wake up in the morning,” he said, “I’m happy.”