Pulling ‘a fast one?’ State criticized over new migrant health care dashboard
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 5/5/23-Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference after the 2023 legislative session concluded, Friday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

'The state is trying to pull a fast one on us and, again, immigrants are the scapegoat.'

Florida’s health care regulatory agency — now charged with tracking how much uncompensated health care is provided to migrants in Florida — recently rolled out a new dashboard meant to give the public the answer to that question.

However, the Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) new dashboard does not include some of the caveats to that information that was provided in a mandatory report on the same subject that was given to legislators weeks earlier, including a finding that the agency was “not able to find any obvious correlation” between the amount of uncompensated care provided by hospitals and the level “of illegal aliens” who were treated at the facilities.

The report submitted to the Legislature also notes that “high levels of uncompensated care are more associated with rural county status than illegal immigration percentages.”

When asked, AHCA did not explain the differences, instead saying it was important to let taxpayers know that money was being spent on those in the country illegally.

In a statement to Florida Politics, AHCA said the dashboard “highlights the $566 million dollar burden that illegal immigration has had on our health care system, which is designed to serve the citizens of the United States. Ultimately, taxpayers should not be forced to bear the cost of any amount of uncompensated care for illegal immigrants, and this dashboard well documents just how big that burden has become.”

A spokesperson for the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FIC) said providing different reports to the public and the Legislature is “dishonest and deceitful.”

“The state is trying to pull a fast one on us and, again, immigrants are the scapegoat. They should be ashamed of themselves; this level of trickery is not what Floridians deserve,” said FIC spokesperson Adrianna Rivera.

In compiling the report, AHCA relied on the audited financial reports hospitals are required to submit to the state and the new quarterly immigration status reports the facilities are required to submit as part of the 2023 immigration law championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In 2022, there was more than $2.6 billion in care provided by Florida hospitals that was not covered directly through Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance or self-pay.

That number was multiplied by 0.82% — the percentage of migrants seeking care at Florida hospitals who self-reported that they were not legally residing in Florida — accounting for the $566 million figure.

The legislative report also qualifies the finding, noting that “it is unclear how much of that care provided to illegal aliens was uncompensated.”

DeSantis has pushed multiple measures dealing with illegal immigration since he took office, including a bill passed in 2023 that required hospitals to ask people about their immigration status. AHCA was required to submit a report to the Legislature by March 1 detailing the findings.

Advocates opposed to the policies question the time and money being spent on it.

“It’s all just a colossal waste of resources to even be focused on this,” Florida Center Fiscal Economic Policy Director Karen Woodall said of the requirement for hospitals to ask patients their immigration status, the legislatively mandated report and the new dashboard.

The Legislature appropriated an additional $577,000 to AHCA in the Fiscal Year 2024-25 budget for the staff and resources necessary for its data collection efforts for migrants and nursing homes.

Woodall said if the Legislature wanted to lower uncompensated care costs, they could have spent the $577,000 to do that.

“They don’t care about the uncompensated care costs. We all know it’s just a political statement and it’s just sad that we’re jeopardizing people’s ability to get the health care they need because of people’s politics,” Woodall told Florida Politics.

The legislative report also includes a finding that “high levels of uncompensated care are more associated with rural county status than illegal immigration percentages.” Those findings were labeled as “additional observations” in the report submitted to the Legislature but they don’t appear in the report included on the agency’s dashboard.

Sen. Gayle Harrell, the chief health care budget negotiator for the Senate, said the appropriation was necessary to ensure that AHCA had the staff it needed to collect the information. “We have a significant number of individuals coming into this state who are illegal and we need to know exactly what that is. The federal government should be paying that and they are not.”

Annual Hospital Immigration Data Report 2023-7 by janelle on Scribd

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.


  • Andy

    March 28, 2024 at 11:49 am

    We track migrant workers, only to instill fear and hate, but Florida’s children lost healthcare, and there is NO concern, care, or action????? Not PRO-LIFE, Pro-money!

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 28, 2024 at 8:48 pm

    Is anybody surprised? Rhonda’s speciality is fast ones and I ain’t talkin’ baseball pitches

  • FLPatriot

    March 29, 2024 at 8:13 am

    Everyone knows that most of the handouts go to poor rural right wingers. They fight hard against it because they don’t want everyone know it but they do.

    • rick whitaker

      March 29, 2024 at 7:33 pm

      flpatriot, are you saying white christian nationalists are hypocritical POS? if yes, then i agree

    • 3 Teeth Good and Tryna Get To St Augustine

      March 31, 2024 at 9:47 am

      Too true; the Christian white meth tweaker is florida Medicaid’s gene pool.

  • W Rose

    March 29, 2024 at 7:38 pm

    So we’re supposed to be up in arms about the less than 1% that’s maybe spent on undocumented people but not the other 2 billion? Am I getting that right, tiny D?

  • Questions

    March 31, 2024 at 9:45 am

    When strawberries are $23/pint because you chased the $15/hr labor force into the Carolinas;

    When your pool-cleaner says ‘I just don’t have the staff’ and drops your smaller contract;

    When your HOA building is looking long in the tooth because white Christians want $45 an hour so no maintenance is taking place…

  • Elmo

    April 1, 2024 at 6:50 am

    No surprises here. The racist Republicans are at it again, fudging up what they think they do best.

Comments are closed.


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