TFN Calls for Investigation of State Contract Renewal for Anti-Abortion Group

by TFN

State lawmakers promised low-income Texans wouldn’t be hurt when they cut Planned Parenthood out of funding for reproductive health care services. They lied. Today we’re joining with Campaign for Accountability in calling on Texas lawmakers to investigate why the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) renewed contracts worth millions of taxpayer dollars for the next two years with an anti-abortion nonprofit, the Heidi Group, that failed to deliver promised services under the original contracts last year. Check out our press release.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2018

CONTACTS:
Dan Quinn, Texas Freedom Network, 512.322.0545, dan@tfn.org; Daniel Stevens, Campaign for Accountability, 202.780.5750, dstevens@campaignforaccountability.org

The Texas Freedom Network and Campaign for Accountability are calling on Texas lawmakers to investigate why the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) renewed contracts worth millions of taxpayer dollars for the next two years with an anti-abortion nonprofit, the Heidi Group, that failed to deliver promised services under the original contracts last year.

“It’s hard to see how this is not a racket funded at the expense of taxpayers and especially women,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network. “Millions of dollars that could go to helping women who need health care will instead go to a demonstrably unqualified anti-abortion group pushing a political agenda.”

Campaign for Accountability (CfA) Executive Director Daniel Stevens said: “The Texas Health and Human Services Commission hasn’t learned a thing and is throwing good money after bad. The Heidi Group has proven itself incompetent. Lawmakers and citizens alike should be outraged that the state government is wasting taxpayer money on an organization that can’t deliver services.”

According to documents obtained by the Texas Freedom Network under a public information request, HHSC at the end of August 2017 appears to have renewed its contracts with the Heidi Group to facilitate reproductive health care services for low-income women under two programs: Family Planning Program (FPP) and Healthy Texas Women (HTW). The FPP renewal awards $5.1 million each in fiscal years 2018 and 2019 to the Heidi Group. The HTW renewal would pay the group more than $1.6 million in each of the same two fiscal years.

But the renewals were executed the same month that HHSC slashed more than $4 million from the original $5.1-million FPP contract with the Heidi Group for fiscal year 2017. In fact, the Heidi Group’s founder, Carol Everett, signed the FPP contract renewal for 2018 and 2019 just three days after signing the contract amendment that slashed its 2017 funding.

An investigation by CfA last year, relying on thousands of pages of state records, revealed an appalling record of mismanagement and neglect by Everett’s group. CfA found the Heidi Group provided almost no work for its original $5.1 million FPP contract or its original $1.6 million HTW contract.

In September CfA asked the Travis County district attorney’s office to investigate whether the Heidi Group violated criminal law by failing to deliver the services pledged in the contracts while continuing to submit reimbursement requests. Click here to read more about CfA’s investigation.

Even Everett appears to have acknowledged her group’s failure to carry out its contracted promises. A voicemail obtained by CfA revealed that Everett told a staffer in the governor’s office a year ago: “No, we don’t look good, and no, we’re not doing what I planned to do, and no, we’re not doing what I wanted.”

The state initiated the Family Planning Program and Healthy Texas Women after lawmakers eliminated state funding for non-abortion health care services provided by Planned Parenthood. Eliminating funding for those Planned Parenthood services led to a significant decrease in women’s access to state health programs.

“Lawmakers promised low-income women wouldn’t be hurt in their war on Planned Parenthood,” Miller said. “But that was yet another lie used to justify anti-abortion laws.”

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The Texas Freedom Network (tfn.org) is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders who support religious freedom and individual liberties, including access to abortion and other reproductive health care.

Campaign for Accountability (campaignforaccountability.org) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.

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