A webpage that offered information on breast cancer on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) website has been scrubbed, prompting questions and concerns.
In addition to breast cancer information, the page included helpful reproductive health guidance, including insurance details for low-income patients.
The Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project first called attention to the webpage’s removal. The group regularly documents page and link removals from the HHS Office on Women’s Health website, according to ThinkProgress.
An HHS spokesperson reportedly claimed that the informative pages were “rarely used” and the content was not “mobile-friendly,” which prompted their removal on Dec. 6, 2017.
The spokesperson added: “Before we update any of the information… we engage in a comprehensive audit and use analysis process that includes reviewing other federal consumer health websites to ensure we are not duplicating efforts or presenting redundant information.”
Although users going to the site for breast cancer information can still go to WomensHealth.gov/cancer, it’s not quite as helpful because it doesn’t have a dedicated page for breast cancer.
The spokesperson insisted, however, that “sister HHS agencies… have the same information in a much more user-friendly format on their websites.”
The decision to pull the pages doesn’t appear as innocent as the spokesperson makes it seem, considering the removal of the insurance details that benefited minorities and low-income people.
Specifically, the site no longer makes mention of the fact that the Affordable Care Act requires coverage of no-cost breast cancer screenings for certain people.
Additionally, the “Government in action” section, which highlighted a government program that connects low-income, uninsured, and underinsured patients to breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services, is no longer accessible.
The old breast cancer page also linked to a Spanish version of the text. Yet, all of the aforementioned information has been scrubbed and isn’t found anywhere else on the site.
It would seem that this decision was deliberately made to further disenfranchise women of color and low-income Americans by limiting their access to valuable resources. Given that discrimination comes in many forms and the future of health care in the Unites States is still unclear, it's not incredibly far-fetched that a government agency would take such a shady course of action.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Rhoda Baer (Photographer)