Why Is the Government Hiding Information About Breast Cancer?
A web page focused on breast cancer has been scrubbed from WomensHealth.gov, according to a report from the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit advocating for greater government transparency. The website is a consumer-facing information hub managed by the Office on Women’s Health, a division of the federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
Some of the material that was removed exists on other areas of the WomensHealth.gov site, but there’s no longer a central location for breast cancer. The omission is notable because the A-Z Health Topics page covers other health conditions from acne to sexually transmitted infections to yeast infections with links to separate informational pages. Even more bizarrely, a link for “cancer” goes to a page with separate information links for cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer (each of which you can also get to from the A-Z listing), but has no information on breast cancer. And that is odd.
“Among the material removed is information about provisions of the Affordable Care Act that require coverage of no-cost breast cancer screenings for certain women, as well as links to a free cancer screening program administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),” says the Sunlight Foundation report.
Information for the CDC program is still available on that agency’s website, and the National Cancer Institute site maintains a web page focused on breast cancer information; clicking through a few links will get to a description of the CDC’s screening program as well as an explanation of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurance companies cover mammograms without copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles. (The ACA’s elimination of certain out-of-pocket costs increased the rate of mammography among older women, according to a study published last year in the journal Cancer.)
So why remove information about the most common cancer among women from a site aimed at female health consumers?
ThinkProgress reported on the website alteration, quoting an HHS spokesperson who said, “The pages were removed on December 6, 2017, because content was not mobile-friendly and very rarely used.” Updating information on the site only happens after a comprehensive audit to ensure it’s not duplicating efforts of other federal consumer health sites, the spokesperson continued.
The department’s motives would be less suspicious if it had not already removed several LGBTQ resources from WomensHealth.gov. A separate Sunlight Foundation report released in March showed that a web page on lesbian and bisexual health had been eliminated sometime in September or October of 2017, without any notice or explanation. So this would not be the first time the regime appeared to be playing politics with women’s health.