Heidi Group Heave-Hoed

State finally kicks incompetent anti-choice health provider to the curb

Heidi Group President Carol Everett
Heidi Group President Carol Everett (Courtesy of Heidigroup.org)

"It's about damn time," said Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, echoing the general consensus among pro-choice groups after the Texas Health and Human Services Commission finally decided to break its multimillion-dollar women's health contracts with an anti-choice organization that had zero medical expertise. The contracts, say reproductive health groups, should have never been granted in the first place.

The Round Rock-based Heidi Group – meant to replace Planned Parenthood in the state's women's health program in a purely ideological move by state officials – had been awarded a total of $16.7 million for 2017-19 to serve low-income women in the Healthy Texas Women and state family planning programs. In 2017, the group, which had no prior health care experience and is headed by a vocal anti-abortion activist, deeply failed to meet its client goals, seeing only about 2,000 instead of a projected 50,000 clients. The HHSC announced it would considerably scale back its funding ("State Axes Anti-Choice Group's Family Planning Funds," Aug. 23, 2017), but the health commission then quietly re-upped its contract for 2019, despite the group's glaring incompetence and negligence.

HHSC's Carrie Williams says that after several reviews, the commission "determined that the Heidi Group is unable to meet the standards of a successful contractor with us" due to "substantial deficiencies in the areas of contract compliance, service administration, and financial and administrative management of both contracts." Not only will Heidi Group be losing its funding by Dec. 11, but it will be forced to pay up for its failures. Williams says agency officials found roughly $29,000 in repayments and a questionable $1.1 million in billed costs that may also need to be reimbursed; the HHSC inspector general is currently investigating.

Reproductive health groups are calling the contract termination a victory, but still criticize HHSC for granting taxpayer dollars to a vendor like Heidi Group in the first place. "The Heidi Group was never remotely qualified to provide reproductive health care to tens of thousands of Texans in need," says Aimee Arrambide, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. "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."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More repro rights
Abortion Gag Rule Could Jeopardize Local Care
Abortion Gag Rule Could Jeopardize Local Care
More than 6,000 Austinites rely on Title X funds

Mary Tuma, June 8, 2018

Texas: An Abortion Desert
Texas: An Abortion Desert
Women in 10 Texas cities must travel more than 100 miles for an abortion

Mary Tuma, May 25, 2018

More by Mary Tuma
Debunking Five Anti-Choice Lies This Session
Debunking Five Anti-Choice Lies This Session
No wonder why repro rights groups are using the mantra “Lies Into Laws”

April 24, 2019

Ken Paxton Puts the Brakes on Federal Inquiry Into Debunked Voter Fraud Claims
Ken Paxton Puts the Brakes on Federal Inquiry Into Debunked Voter Fraud Claims
A.G. tells Congress to wait in line

April 19, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

repro rights, Heidi Group, Texas Freedom Network, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, HHSC, Planned Parenthood, Carrie Williams, Healthy Texas Women, family planning, Aimee Arrambide, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle