August 9, 2019
Dr. Courtney N. Phillips, Commissioner
Texas Health and Human Services Commission
4900 N. Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78751-2316
Dear Commissioner Phillips,
I join my constituents and several of my colleagues in the Texas Legislature in urging the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to follow its longstanding, competitive bidding process before awarding additional funding to contractors in the Alternatives to Abortion Program. The Legislature generally requires agencies to follow consistent competitive bidding processes to ensure Texans are served by the best contractors available and receiving the benefits for which they’re paying. Disregarding this standard business practice because one program or contractor is politically popular with some at a particular moment sets a dangerous precedent that threatens not only our taxpayer dollars but also the health and welfare of women and their families.
Creating an exception to the standard contracting rules would be particularly problematic in this instance. As you know, HHSC has been justifiably criticized for years for contract mismanagement. Anti-abortion programs in particular have a history of failed promises.¹ Abortion politics cannot justify deviating from the contracting requirements that the Legislature and HHSC have put in place to ensure Texas women and families receive the best services available.
Finally, I see no evidence that the Legislature intended for HHSC to bypass its standard contacting procedures when it increased funding for the Alternatives to Abortion Program. In fact, the 86th Legislature added new reporting requirements for the first time to increase transparency and accountability for this particular funding.2 Awarding new Alternatives to Abortion contracts without going through a competitive bidding process would directly undermine these goals.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and for your service to Texas.
¹ E.g., https://www.texastribune.org/2018/ l 0/ 12/texas-cancels-health-contracts-anti-abortion-heidi-group/. Rider 80( c ), Alternatives to Abortion Program, HHSC budget, p. II-71.