Viral Video on Immigration Costs

Amanda Carpenter

6/12/2008 3:13:21 PM - Amanda Carpenter

Video testimony from a Florida hospital administrator about the millions of tax dollars spent providing health care for illegal aliens is spreading like wildfire on the internet.

Last April, Carol Plato, director of services from Martin Memorial Medical Hospital, told members of Florida’s House Committee on State Affairs about the extreme financial burdens illegal immigrants have imposed on her hospital. The Florida House of Representatives posted video from the day’s testimony and later an immigration enforcement advocate clipped her segment and uploaded it to YouTube, where it’s received almost 400,000 views to date.

In the video, Plato testifies: “In 2001, we had a Guatemalan, an illegal patient in our hospital. He was there from 2001 and until 2003. He had over $1.5 million in health care services. We forcibly returned him to his home county of Guatemala at our own cost of $30,000. You ask why am I telling you about a case that happened in 2003? Because today that case is not over. We have spent and are spending up to a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees because his family here in the United States is suing us because they think it as inappropriate for us to return this illegal patient to his home country.”

She also reminds Florida lawmakers of the $100 million providing healthcare for illegal aliens in 2007. [See video and transcript below].

The video was uploaded by a man whose YouTube screen name is SoFlaPatriot.

In an interview with Townhall, SoFlaPatriot said he participates in lobbying activities with two immigration enforcement groups called Floridians for Immigration Enforcement and Bridges Across America.

“A lot of people are angry,” SoFlaPatriot said. He asked Townhall not to publish his real name because of threatening comments that have been posted in the comments section of the video, but is happy more people are finding out about the expenses of illegal immigration because he uploaded the video.

“I’m definitely gratified this got out there,” he said. “This is public domain stuff. There’s got to be a lot more of it out there. People just need to find it and post it.”

Below is the video and transcript of Plato’s testimony.

PLATO: In 2001, we had a Guatemalan, an illegal patient in our hospital. He was there from 2001 and until 2003. He had over $1.5 million in health care services. We forcibly returned him to his home county of Guatemala at our own cost of $30,000. You ask why am I telling you about a case that happened in 2003? Because today that case is not over. We have spent and are spending up to a quarter of a million dollars in legal fees because his family here in the United States is suing us because they think it as inappropriate for us to return this illegal patient to his home country.

Currently, as of today, I have a patient from Mexico who has been in my hospital for 760 days. He has severe brain damage, has no family, no friends. His charges to date for almost two years is $1.5 million and we have contacted the Mexican Consulate four times, we have contacted Immigration and nobody will help us return this patient to Mexico. We are even willing to spend our own $30,000 to return this patient. We can’t get anyone to help us with that.

In 2007, the Florida Hospital Association estimates that there was $100 million in costs for illegal care. That affects all of us. One of the major problems that health care institutions have today that you need to be aware of is ongoing care. If somebody comes into our emergency rooms we don’t turn them away. But if someone comes into our emergency room and they have renal failure and they require dialysis, right now I have six patients, illegal, undocumented patients that we are seeing every three days for renal dialysis. For all this I have talked about we have received no reimbursement. This obviously affects all of us in this room. Our health care costs are severely affected by this. I would also like to end with pointing out that a large percentage of the babies born at our facility are from illegal parents.”

QUESTION: Ma’am, when you know they are illegal do you report them to federal authorities so you they can get them?

PLATO: We have tried and we have been told on numerous occasions that they’re only interested if a crime has been committed. And, from what I understand they’re not even interested then.

QUESTION: So the fact that they’re illegal is not enough crime?

PLATO: Correct.