Budget deal includes $557K for state to collect immigration status, nursing home data
Image via AP.

Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis says the public deserves an 'honest accounting' of how much the care costs.

Florida will spend more than half a million dollars to collect data from hospitals and nursing homes, including the immigration status of people receiving emergency medical service under a new spending deal.

Budget documents show the Legislature agreed to spend $557,882 on four positions within the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to build a system for the immigration reporting requirements contained in the sweeping 2023 law, SB 1718.

Passed before Gov Ron DeSantis announced his campaign for President, the bill clamped down on illegal immigration in Florida and hiked penalties on those aiding migrants to enter the state or employing migrants. The law also requires hospitals that receive Medicaid dollars to collect information as to whether the patient is a United States citizen or lawfully present in the United States or is not lawfully present in the United States.

Patients are not required to answer the question, but hospitals are required to ask it and to quarterly report the data to AHCA.

AHCA was required to collect the data every quarter and by March 1 to submit a report to the Governor and legislative leaders on the total number of hospital admissions and emergency department visits for the previous calendar year for which the patient or patient’s representative reported that the patient was a citizen of the United States or lawfully present in the United States, was not lawfully present in the United States, or declined to answer.

The report was required to also include information on “the costs of uncompensated care for aliens who are not lawfully present in the United States, the impact of uncompensated care on the cost or ability of hospitals to provide services to the public, hospital funding needs, and other related information.”

DeSantis touted the requirements at a bill signing ceremony in Jacksonville. “The public deserves an honest accounting of how much this is costing us in terms of services.”

The Florida Immigration Coalition is a grassroots statewide coalition of more than 65 member organizations and more than 100 allies. Coalition communications director Adriana Rivera said she wasn’t surprised at the Legislature’s financial support for the data collection initiative that she says has had a chilling impact on people seeking emergency care, especially pregnant women.

“The Florida Legislature, and with our current Governor, they do a lot of things based on optics and on politics, rather than on the well-being, and the growth of our state. They have a lot of shorter-term goals in mind, whether that’s the fantasy of the Governor’s now-failed campaign for President, or whether that’s, you know, sticking into the LIBS with the flavor du jour, which now happens to be immigrants,” she told Florida Politics. “So they have very short-term vision and short-term goals.”

AHCA will use the staff also to build a uniform financial reporting system for Florida nursing homes. The Legislature in 2022 directed nursing homes to begin reporting audited financial reports to the state. According to a staff analysis of the bill, AHCA was at the time in the midst of developing rules and building systems to support the nursing home uniform data reporting system.

According to AHCA’s Fiscal Year 2024-25 legislative budget request it needed additional staff to build the system.

Meanwhile, nursing homes are preparing to submit their audited financial reports to AHCA as required by the 2022 law by April 1.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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