TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA —Florida hospitals would have to gather information on the immigration status of Medicaid patients and employers would face stiff penalties if they knowingly hire illegal immigrants under a far-reaching bill filed by a top state senator.
Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill) filed his legislation just prior to the Biden Administration’s Wednesday loss in a Florida federal court concerning its border policies.
Key takeaways from Sen. Ingoglia’s SB 1718 include:
- Requiring Medicaid-accepting hospitals to provide data on how many patients are undocumented.
- Prohibiting employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants, with fines of $5,000 per hire.
- Making the harboring, transporting, or concealing of an illegal immigrant a third degree felony.
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Ingoglia asserts that his bill is a vessel to “force the federal government to react” as they are “absolutely not doing their jobs,” referring to illegal border crossings existing at a three times higher rate under the Biden administration than the Trump administration.
Governor Ron DeSantis announced his support for the proposed legislation, declaring: “Florida is a law and order state, and we won’t turn a blind eye to the dangers of Biden’s Border Crisis.”
Ingoglia’s bill is not without its critics. Former Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party Caucus Tomas Kennedy voiced his concerns on Twitter:
“Florida Republicans have filed one of the most anti-immigrant bills I have seen at the state level. It has a lot of awful things but one the worst is that it would actually make it a third degree felony to have an undocumented person in your home or to drive them in your car,” Kennedy stated.
In an opinion piece, Kennedy alleged that Ingoglia’s bill would violate HIPAA laws with its hospital provision.
Sen. Ingoglia disagreed, telling the Florida Standard:
“I reject that… that’s just not accurate,” he contended. “It says in the bill – hospitals are not allowed to transmit any personal patient data. All we want to know is how many passed through the emergency room, how many have affirmed that they are not here legally, how many have refused to answer,”.
The federal ruling against President Biden, the governor’s ardent support and the filing of companion bill HB 1617 by Rep. Kiyan Michael (R-Jacksonville) all bode well for SB 1718 chances to make it through Florida’s 60-day legislative session.