January 23, 2020 Press Releases, Themis Project

Anti-Birth Control Group Obria’s Unredacted Applications for Federal Funding Confirm Financial Mismanagement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2020

Contact: Bryan Dewan, bdewan@campaignforaccountability.org, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, released the 2018 and 2019 Title X applications for The Obria Group, Inc. (Obria), an anti-choice religious ministry masquerading as a healthcare provider. CfA obtained these federal grant applications through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although initially produced with heavy redactions, CfA ultimately was able to review applications revealing an unusually high cost per patient, significant funds spent on an untested and unapproved fertility tracking mobile application, and a substantial six-figure salary for a medical director with an apparently undisclosed and unrelated full-time job.

Click here to view the documents.

CfA Counsel Alice Huling said, “Obria’s Title X applications conclusively demonstrate that Obria is neither fit to manage taxpayer dollars nor capable of efficiently delivering Title X health services to low-income women.”

Obria purports to be a national network of 48 affiliated crisis pregnancy centers that do not offer contraception, including condoms, beyond fertility awareness. Obria opposes abortion without exception. Obria’s initial 2018 application for Title X funding to provide family planning services was denied. The organization re-applied in 2019 and was awarded $1.7 million to provide comprehensive family planning services in three California counties. Obria is set to receive an additional $3.4 million over the next two years.

Click here to read more about CfA’s investigation of Obria.

CfA filed FOIA requests for Obria’s Title X applications in December 2018 and January 2019, eventually filing a lawsuit for the records in March 2019. In June 2019, HHS produced heavily redacted versions of the applications, which formed the basis of a letter CfA sent to senior HHS officials asking them to curtail Obria’s Title X funding.

Click here to read CfA’s letter to HHS Secretary Azar and Deputy Assistant Secretary Foley.

After months of negotiating with HHS regarding improper redactions, HHS eventually produced cleaner versions of the applications. Perhaps unsurprisingly, HHS had sought to hide Obria’s astronomical per patient costs, which vary dramatically between contractors and range from a low of $292 per patient at the Obria Southern California clinic to a high of $970 per patient at Horizons Pregnancy Care facility. In contrast, a competitor’s per patient cost is just $20, allowing it to serve an exponentially greater number of patients for the same money.

The unredacted application also shows Obria planned to spend $58,500 federal dollars on staff training for the FEMM natural family planning app. While the FDA has approved one family planning app, FEMM, apparently the only contraceptive method provided by Obria, is not it and there is no evidence FEMM is an effective form of family planning. Notably, FEMM is financed by Sean Feiler, a significant anti-abortion donor.

Finally, Obria planned to pay Dr. Peter Anzaldo a salary of $165,000 for the full-time position of medical director, without acknowledging or addressing the fact that Dr. Anzaldo is simultaneously maintaining a private medical practice.

Ms. Huling continued, “$1.7 million that could have gone to help women access family planning services already has been wasted. Congress should exercise its oversight jurisdiction to ensure HHS anti-contraception ideologues can’t fritter away anymore hard-earned taxpayer funds on this futile project.” 

Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.

Obria’s 2018 Title X Application

Obria’s 2019 Title X Application