(The Center Square) – Taxpayers spent nearly $340 million for foreign nationals illegally in the U.S. who were admitted to Florida hospitals during fiscal 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office says. This is after taxpayers spent $312 million on illegal foreign nationals admitted to Florida hospitals in fiscal 2020.
According to the findings, donations from charities were used to help pay for illegal foreign nationals’ hospital bills.
The governor’s office published the data on Thursday when DeSantis announced an extensive legislative plan for the legislature to consider. Among several proposals, it includes requiring hospitals to collect data on the citizenship and immigration status of patients and “the costs to provide care to illegal aliens” and regularly report it to the governor and state legislature.
The legislation builds on an executive order DeSantis issued, EO-21-223, requiring hospitals to collect and report the data.
The governor’s office released data it received for fiscal 2020-2021, which was reported August 18, 2022, according to a report from the Accuracy for Healthcare Administration. Total hospital costs to taxpayers covering hospital admissions and treatments of “illegal aliens were $312.92 million” in fiscal 2020-2021, according to the report, with facilities being paid $103.49 million.
There was a $209.43 million difference between facility costs and how much facilities were paid, “meaning facilities were paid for 33% of costs attributed to illegal aliens,” the report states.
DeSantis’ executive order also required facilities to itemize costs incurred by foreign nationals in the U.S. illegally that were billed to federal, state and local funds. According to the data reported to the state, local jurisdictions were on the hook for $700,000 for inpatient and outpatient services.
Hospital costs for illegal foreign nationals billed to the state for inpatient and outpatient services cost taxpayers $104.91 million; similar services billed to the federal government totaled $5.3 million.
Among 316 facilities, 142 “stated charity expenditures included illegal aliens.” They used $1.23 million from local charity donations, $5.43 million from state charities, and $150,000 from federal charity funds.
The report also notes there were “a total of 111,475 illegal alien encounters and 23,358 illegal alien hospital admissions” for fiscal 2020.
Although fiscal 2021 data wasn’t publicized by the governor’s office, the totals in these categories are likely higher because the total cost to taxpayers increased to nearly $340 million in fiscal 2021, according to the governor’s office.
Fiscal 2022 data has yet to be published and the governor’s office did not response to requests for comment about fiscal 2021 or 2022 data.
DeSantis issued the executive order to determine how taxpayers were being impacted by illegal immigration when it comes to hospital costs. In early January, he issued an emergency declaration citing costs to taxpayers funding first responders and law enforcement officers after several hundred people began arriving in the Florida Keys on rustic vessels on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The influx of people illegally landing in Florida from multiple countries was "particularly burdensome for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office," DeSantis’ office said. Their office has limited taxpayer-funded resources primarily dedicated to public safety of their communities, which are diverted away from taxpayers when illegal landings occur, DeSantis argued.
State Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, and the former chair of the Republican Party of Florida, said when DeSantis unveiled his border security plan that the southern border crisis is "a direct result of the federal government refusing to enforce immigration laws" established by Congress. He also said, "The problem is so bad that the federal government should declare itself its own disaster area.
"It is reckless and an abomination, and our governor will not stand by idly as this open-borders agenda continues to take over our families, friends and our communities. As a matter of fact, he will boldly push Florida as the blueprint by which other states should fight illegal immigration."