Watchdog Calls on HHS to Stop Providing Title X Funding to Anti-Abortion Group Obria
Complaint Details Pattern of Deceitful Practices and Misuse of Federal Funds
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog organization focused on public accountability, sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex Azar, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, Dr. Diane Foley, asking HHS to end Title X funding for The Obria Group, Inc., and its affiliated Obria Medical Clinics of Southern California (collectively Obria), an anti-choice religious ministry masquerading as a healthcare group. Obria appears to have deliberately provided inaccurate information in its 2019 Title X application and is an inefficient administrator of Title X services.
CfA Counsel Alice Huling said, “Obria’s farce is over, the organization is not providing adequate family planning services to the people of California. HHS should immediately investigate Obria’s conduct and force Obria to return any improperly spent or unused Title X funds.”
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. On March 29, 2019, HHS awarded Obria $1.7 million to provide Title X funding for comprehensive family planning services in three California counties. Obria is set to receive an additional $3.4 million over the next two years.
Following the announcement, CfA launched an investigation of Obria, filing several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and publishing a report about Obria’s history of deception and lies. Emails obtained through a FOIA request indicate HHS officials intervened directly to secure Title X funding for Obria.
CfA’s new complaint documents the myriad problems within Obria’s application for Title X funding. For instance, Obria lied about its medical director’s involvement with the Title X program and lied about its willingness to refer patients for birth control. In addition, Obria applied for several federal grants to pay for the same abstinence-only education program.
An analysis of Obria’s Title X program indicates the organization falls short of federal standards. For instance, many of Obria’s project sites do not provide legitimate family planning methods, but instead offer inaccurate medical information like the unscientific abortion pill reversal. Additionally, Obria’s application asked for $6 million to serve 12,000 patients whereas another California grantee could have served 300,000 patients with the same amount of money.
Federal law requires all Title X applicants to submit truthful and accurate information and to certify that all materials made available under the grant are suitable for Title X purposes. Obria appears to have violated federal law by lying on its application and offering inaccurate and misleading medical information to patients. Federal agencies can force contractors to return misused and unspent funds if they are have found to have violated federal law.
Ms. Huling continued, “Obria’s decades-long track record proves that the organization is incapable of adequately administering federal funds. From lying on its federal application to inefficiently administering its Title X program, Obria is the antithesis of an effective federal healthcare contractor. HHS should do everything in its power to recoup these misspent funds and ensure Obria does not receive another dime of taxpayer dollars.”
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.