Health & Science

Group Led By Anti-Abortion Activist Gets $1.6 Million In Texas Health Funds

A Houston lawmaker called for an investigation Monday of the contracting process for the “Healthy Texas Women” program, a state fund that helps low-income women access birth control and reproductive health care.

Healthy Texas Women is a new state program that combines two older state programs that operated separately. The unification is meant to streamline eligibility and increase efficiency.

Healthy Texas Women allocates $18 million a year to help low-income women get gynecological exams, cancer screenings and birth control. It’s been controversial in the past because lawmakers used eligibility guidelines to exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from participating.

Now a new controversy has erupted with the announcement of the first round of grants.

The Heidi Group of Round Rock, which has traditionally focused on steering women away from abortions, received $1.6 million dollars. It was the second-highest award among 31 grantees.  

“The Heidi Group, at the time of the award, is an unlicensed medical provider,” said State Representative Jessica Farrar, a Houston Democrat. “Moreover, the organization is led by a very vocal, and very active, anti-abortion advocate.”

Farrar called on the state auditor to investigate the contracting process.

A call to the Heidi Group in Round Rock was not returned before deadline.

Bryan Black, a spokesman for Health and Human Services, says the group fulfilled all the application requirements and has “expanded its focus” beyond anti-abortion advocacy.

“What we found out is the group’s proposal was one of the most comprehensive of any of those that applied for the grant,” Black said. “The group’s services will cover more than 60 counties in 7 regions, through approximately 20 clinic sites.”

Black added that it doesn’t matter if the Heidi Group is not a licensed medical provider because it is subcontracting with a network of doctors and clinics who will treat women.

Most of the 31 grants will flow directly to health clinics or hospitals. So far, the biggest grant has been $1.7 million, to Harris County’s health department.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has distributed $15 million of the $18 million allocation. Black explained the final grants should be disbursed by mid-September.

 

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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