The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced Friday afternoon that it is ending its contract with an anti-abortion group receiving millions from the state to provide women's health services as part of multiple programs. The Heidi Group, according to the state, repeatedly failed to serve the number of patients it told the state it could over the previous two years.
“We are closely monitoring the performance and metrics of all of our contractors. We worked with the Heidi Group over time on its performance, and we have determined that the Heidi Group is unable to meet the standards of a successful contractor with us. Contract termination was in the best interest of the state and the clients we serve,” HHS said in a statement.
Saying the Heidi Group, which promotes alternatives to abortion for low-income women, was "unable to meet the standards of a successful contractor" is a bit of an understatement. According to a recent report from the Texas Observer, the group, which did not return a request for comment from the Dallas Observer Friday, told the state it could serve nearly 51,000 in 2017 as part of Texas' Healthy Texas Women program, which provides low-income women with things like pregnancy tests and disease screenings. The Heidi Group served only 2,327 at its 22 affiliated clinics throughout the state.
Texas previously renewed the Heidi Group's contracts with the state for 2018 despite having to rescind over $4 million in funding because the group served far fewer patients than projected in 2017, as well, according to the Texas Observer. Despite the cut, the Heidi Group was awarded more than $3 million in state funding for 2018.
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"The Heidi Group was never remotely qualified to provide reproductive health care to tens of thousands of Texans in need," Aimee Arrambide, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement late Friday. "Yet, the state went to extremes to withhold funds from qualified providers in order to award undeserved millions of taxpayer dollars to an ideological, anti-choice organization with ties to fake women’s health centers. Family planning dollars should go directly to medical providers who have experience providing family planning and preventive care services, not anti-abortion organizations that aim to coerce and manipulate."
The Texas HHS removed Planned Parenthood from the Healthy Texas Women program in 2011, despite the organization serving 40 percent of the women covered by the program. Friday, Arrambide urged the Legislature to allow back into the program groups like Planned Parenthood, which have been kicked out for providing abortions, though not with government funding.
"We encourage the Legislature to remove the restrictions on qualified providers from participating in these programs in order to prevent this sort of waste in the future," she said.