The Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) Office on Women’s Health removed a webpage dedicated to breast cancer and other helpful reproductive health information, including important insurance information for low-income people, according to a new report.
The Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project first reported the missing webpage. The group has been documenting page or link removals from the OWH website and shared its most recent report with ThinkProgress.
If you go on WomensHealth.gov and search “breast cancer,” you’ll get about 181,000 results, but none will direct you to this page:
Screenshot from July 27, 2017 of “Breast Cancer” webpage that was removed.
Among the dozen links on the first search page is a broken link to the now-removed breast cancer webpage, and it returns visitors to the home page if you click on it.
“The pages were removed on December 6, 2017 because content was not mobile-friendly and very rarely used,” an HHS spokesperson told ThinkProgress. “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.”
The spokesperson said for users who come to the WomensHealth.gov, looking for breast cancer information, they should go to WomensHealth.gov/cancer. This page does not have a dedicated page for breast cancer, but the spokesperson said “sister HHS agencies… have the same information in a much more user-friendly format on their websites.”
OWH did not publicly announce or explain when officials removed this information in December.
This breast cancer page did serve as a repository of links dedicated to this disease, like “Breast cancer symptoms”, “Screening and diagnosis”, “Breast cancer risk factors and prevention”, and “Government in action.” Informational pages and factsheets about the disease can’t be found elsewhere on the OWH website, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s comprehensive review.
The information removed is especially helpful to low-income individuals and people of color, such as important insurance information. The Affordable Care Act requires coverage of no-cost breast cancer screenings for certain individuals, but the website no longer makes mention of this. The “Government in action” section previously highlighted a government program that connected low-income, uninsured, and underinsured people to breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services. The main breast cancer webpage also linked to a Spanish version. All of this information has been removed and is not found elsewhere on the OWH website, according to the Sunlight Foundation report.
There is still a page dedicated to mammograms, but a significant amount of content has been removed and is not elsewhere on the OWH site.
The report follows a recent discovery by the Sunlight Foundation that the Office of Women’s Health also stripped multiple LGBTQ health resources from its website.