A few months after AmeriCorps was caught illegally using taxpayer dollars to help women get abortions, the public service agency announced an end to its problematic healthcare program, according to Jezebel.
In April, news broke that some volunteers in the taxpayer-funded program were working with abortion clinics in direct violation of the program’s federal grant requirements, according to The Hill. According to the investigation, six AmeriCorps volunteers provided emotional support and transportation to women seeking abortions at a community health center in New York City. The abortion work was organized through the National Association of Community Health Centers, which oversees AmeriCorps, the report states.
In May, the health centers association and AmeriCorps leaders faced an investigative hearing in front of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce to examine the violations and consider what action to take.
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Now, the health centers association is shutting down the AmeriCorps healthcare program, Buzzfeed reports. The program, Community HealthCorps, trained thousands of members to volunteer at health clinics across the nation, according to the report. Members worked in 17 states and Washington, D.C., educating asthma and diabetes patients, reminding older patients to take their medicine, giving HIV tests and performing other tasks, the report states.
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Community HealthCorps “was our longest-running health care program,” CNCS spokesperson Samantha Warfield told BuzzFeed News, confirming that NACHC failed to secure renewal of its grant this year. The grant has given $30 million to the nonprofit over the last five years.
More than 400 AmeriCorps volunteers, who receive a small stipend and student loan forgiveness in return for their service, are still in Community HealthCorps and will be able to finish out their term at clinics, Warfield said.
Abortion activists, who want to force taxpayers to pay for abortions, are not happy with the news. Jezebel, a pro-abortion website, argued that the abortion violations were very limited, and the program is too valuable to end because of them. Its article ended with this sarcastic jab: “But a moral panic over six people supporting women through an abortion is surely a good reason to scrap the whole thing.”
The Congressional hearing in May told a different story, LiveAction News reports. There have been numerous problems with the program for many years, according to evidence at the hearing.
Committee Chairwoman U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina, said the illegal abortion violations went on for two years before they were discovered.
“The investigation that began when you finally did become aware of what had happened confirmed that taxpayer funds were used to support unlawful activities, but it also revealed much more,” Foxx told the health centers association.
Foxx said the inspector general also found other problems in the program. AmeriCorps members are strictly volunteers, but investigators discovered that some were doing the work of employees at the centers they supported — another violation of the law, she said. Investigators also discovered situations where waste, fraud and abuse were not reported to senior management, she said.
“This disturbing list of unlawful and dishonest practices really makes you wonder: How on earth was this allowed to happen? How were these activities allowed to go on for so long? And, why is the National Association of Community Health Centers still a grantee?” Foxx said.
Foxx said AmeriCorps has not learned its lesson and referred to another investigation in 2011 that also found the program had violated the law. The congresswoman recommended revoking the program’s grant and conducting a comprehensive review of other grantees to ensure they are complying with the law.
“Regardless of your position on the issue of abortion, the law is the law, and it must be followed,” Foxx said.