The leader of a pro-life group under fire in Texas for how it used state funds said headlines declaring the group incompetent and a failure are part of a “pro-choice, pro-abort smear.”
Carol Everett founded The Heidi Group, one of 39 organizations chosen to administer family planning dollars and services to low-income women after Texas defunded Planned Parenthood in 2015. Last month, state officials canceled the group’s contract and confirmed an investigation into $1 million in billings (out of a $5 million contract). The state already ordered The Heidi Group to pay back $29,000 in unallowable costs.
“We were shooting at a moving target the whole time,” Everett told me. “And I’m not going to tell you we were perfect, but I’m going to tell you we didn’t have any help and we thought we were doing it right.”
Reports circulated last year that the group provided medical services to roughly 3,500 women during the first year of operation rather than the 17,895 it had planned. The Heidi Group’s funding came from a state program called Healthy Texas Women, which started when former President Barack Obama slashed federal dollars to the state in retaliation for Texas’ defunding of Planned Parenthood. Healthy Texas Women provides healthcare and abortion-free family planning to more than 220,000 low-income women and works with 5,342 certified healthcare providers through clinics and organizations like The Heidi Group.
Everett said her team landed the contract in 2016 and worked hard to comply with state requirements but received little to no guidance.
In November 2017, the state told The Heidi Group it had to be a direct care facility to stay in the program. Everett discovered a medical office building in Round Rock, Texas, with eight exam rooms the same day. Then the state accepted only 12 of the 28 healthcare providers The Heidi Group wanted to work with, Everett said, which made it look less effective. And despite hiring certified public accountants to handle the group’s finances, the state told the group it had to include copies of cleared paychecks to verify those expenses. The accountants had submitted the time cards and copies of the checks, but not any copies of the cleared checks.
“We had three people [working for the state] who were supposed to help us,” Everett said. “The first one would not return emails or phone calls. The second told us to do what we’re doing. The third one wouldn’t help us, either.”
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SOURCE: WORLD Magazine, Samantha Gobba