Watchdogs Sue HHS Following Women’s Health Website Overhaul

American Oversight and the Sunlight Foundation today sued the Department of Health and Human Services to shed light on why the agency removed information about lesbian and bisexual women’s health from an HHS website.

In 2018, the Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project documented HHS’ removal of publicly available information on the Office on Women’s Health website. The website’s unannounced overhaul included obscuring a fact sheet about lesbian and bisexual health and removing a website about breast cancer, which contained information on how to access free or low-cost breast cancer screening programs.

Following a Sunlight Foundation report and other media coverage, HHS added a single webpage on breast cancer. However, it did not publicly announce the addition of a new page, and the lesbian and bisexual health fact sheet remains offline. The Web Integrity Project has continued to find instances in which the administration has removed public information about services and rights for the LGBTQ community and other vulnerable populations.

“Both removals of public information happened without advanced notice or explanation from the office,” said Web Integrity Project Director Rachel Bergman, “which makes it unclear whether the information was removed by mistake; the removed information was actually inaccurate or outdated; or there was a quiet change in underlying policy, unrelated to the accuracy of the information, that motivated the removal but which was not communicated transparently to the public.

“The fact that there is doubt about whether the information is still accurate has a real impact on vulnerable populations who must now consider if their health needs and considerations may be different.”

The Sunlight Foundation is seeking records of communications regarding the Office of Women’s Health website, as well as communications with the firm that manages the website. HHS has failed to respond to all three of the Sunlight Foundation’s request. “Removing vital information about breast cancer and LGBTQ health from a government website has never made sense,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “The public has a right to know the motive behind the puzzling, and perhaps troubling, decision to delete public health information.”

See the complaint below:

Related Blog Posts

April 2, 2019

Federal Judge Rejects Administration’s Argument for Withholding Communications with Congress about ACA Sabotage

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
News
March 1, 2019

HHS Secretary Azar Calendars Show Multiple Meetings with Conservative Health-Care Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
News
February 21, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks HHS Communications with Anti-Abortion Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
News
March 9, 2018

American Oversight Sues HHS and CMS for Verma Ethics Records

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services
News
January 16, 2018

Video: Breaking Down Our Lawsuit with HHS, OMB, and Congress

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
October 17, 2017

Health Care Lawsuit: Fighting for Transparency

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
September 15, 2017

Congress Enters Legal Fight to Block Release of Obamacare Repeal Emails

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services
Investigation Update
September 13, 2017

“News to Me!” – Inside the Health Care Emails

Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
September 7, 2017

Third Set of Health Care Emails Again Shows Trump Administration Effort to Hide Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
August 2, 2017

New Health Care Documents Show Effort to Hide Details of Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
July 20, 2017

American Oversight Sues HHS and OMB For Secret Trump Letter Outlining Plan to Weaken Obamacare

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget, White House
Investigation Update
May 4, 2017

Watchdog Files Lawsuit, Seeks Injunction for HHS, OMB Health Care Negotiation Record

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
March 23, 2017

American Oversight Demands Release of Secret Health Care Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update