Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
An anti-abortion group responsible for offering reproductive health services for women failed to serve as many patients as it told the State it could – and the State is still giving the group funding.
According to The Texas Observer, the Heidi Group has failed to meet its goals for number of patients served under the Healthy Texas Women program and the State’s Family Planning Program. The organization served more than 3,300 clients, far less than the nearly 70,000 the organization had pledged to cover when it won multi-million dollar contracts from the state.
The Round Rock-based center promotes alternatives to abortion to low-income women. The organization, which is led by abortion opponent Carol Everett, has previously described its mission as “promoting life affirming hope and dignity to girls, women, and their families seeking self-sufficiency.” The group helps coordinate reproductive health services through 22 clinics scattered around Texas, including in Arlington, Laredo, McAllen, San Antonio, and Tyler.
During fiscal year 2017, the Heidi Group projected it could serve 50,610 people in the Healthy Texas Women program but only helped 2,327 people. The program is for low-income women ages 18 to 44 who are eligible for services including pregnancy testing, STD testing, breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraceptive counseling, and postpartum depression screenings. The program also provides help with chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The same thing happened with the Family Planning Program, where beneficiaries are eligible for birth control, pregnancy tests, counseling on birth spacing, and screening for cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Last year, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission cut the Heidi Group’s contract under the State’s Family Planning Program by $4.1 million after failing to serve the target number of patients. The organization initially aimed to serve 17,895 women over one year. The group only wound up serving 1,029 people.
Despite this, State officials renewed the Heidi Group’s contracts for both health programs. But the agency reduced the Heidi Group’s Family Planning Program contract from $5.1 million to $2 million for failing to meet its target for clients served for a second time in fiscal year 2018. The same happened for the group under Healthy Texas Women, with its funding for Heidi Group dropping from about $1.6 million to $1.2 million. Despite these issues, the Health and Human Services Commission recently renewed the Heidi Group’s contract for fiscal year 2019. The Heidi Group is expected to serve more than 40,000 patients.
Christine Mann, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Commission, said in an email to the Tribune that the Healthy Texas Women program has served more than 132,000 people and the number continuing to grow is “exactly the trajectory we want to be on.” She noted that contractors that don’t meet their targets would have their funding reduced, but that the agency is working with all contractors “to make sure they are as successful as possible.”
“We’re always committed to improvement when it comes to women’s health, and we’re monitoring performance and providing technical assistance to ensure success for our contractors and all program providers,” Mann said.