New dashboard tracks healthcare cost to taxpayers for Florida's undocumented residents

Florida's taxpayers are paying for the healthcare of some people who are in the state illegally. 

The state's Hospital Patient Immigration Status Dashboard is a new database that requires hospitals to report undocumented patients served. Some state lawmakers say it's needed. 

"The purpose of publishing the data is to show voters how big the problem is," said State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay.

According to Rep. Fine, the problem is that taxpayers are footing a hefty medical bill for undocumented immigrants. Data from June 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023, shows the state spent over $566 million to provide care for undocumented immigrants. Focusing on Central Florida, Orange County spent the third most in the state and the most in our area, at $58.33 million. 

"We can only spend a dollar one time. Every dollar we spend on illegals is a dollar we're not spending on a legal Floridian," said Fine. 

Political experts explain the costs of treating undocumented immigrants do impact taxpayers because everything gets more expensive. 

"Because hospitals know that they are going to have some people that can't pay, they have to raise the prices for all the other services that they provide," said University of Central Florida Political Science Professor Aubrey Jewett.

However, Jewett noted that some believe the dashboard has flaws. He highlights that the math used does not consider each person's exact hospital bill to calculate how much Florida spent. 

Instead, it used hospitals' average dollar amount on uncompensated care. That could include money spent on people who are undocumented and those who aren't. 

"An estimate, not necessarily the case," said Jewett.


Jewett also notes that some offer a counter to this healthcare debt argument. Some believe what's paid out is returned to the state in other ways, like through the payment of state sales taxes. 

"It's not taking into account what people pay in taxes. So, for instance, there's one organization that did an estimate. How much do people that are undocumented or illegal pay in Florida taxes? That was about $1.5 billion a year," said Jewett. 

Some healthcare professionals believe the state is playing a dangerous game by collecting and releasing this info. 

"We shouldn't be putting a price tag on how much I can make off this patient," said Ethan Suarez, Pineapple Healthcare. 

Ethan Suarez is the CEO of Pineapple Healthcare, a provider of services for immigrants and members of the LGBTQ-plus community. 

Suarez was against the state requiring hospitals to now ask about someone's immigration status. 

"We do see undocumented people here in our clinic. They're very fearful when we have to refer them to someone else," said Suarez. 

He does not support the now-published dashboard. He hears the argument about the burden on taxpayers but believes it's a cost that keeps everyone safe. 

"Taxpayers paying for it — it is preventing community spread," said Suarez. "By taking care of one, we are taking care of many." 

State Rep. Johanna Lopez, D-Orlando, who represents part of Orange County, released a statement about the new dashboard to FOX 35 News. 

"We expected that this would be analyzed by the state to persecute and harass our immigrants who are contributing to the state of Florida. They are here doing jobs that other Floridians do not want to do, which is causing worker shortages in the fields of construction and agriculture, among others. This is causing the state's high inflation rate and higher costs for goods affecting all Floridians regardless of immigration status." 

To view the dashboard, click here: Workbook: Illegal Alien Data Dashboard (