The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may have violated federal law by removing a web page that provided information about how Medicare coverage is affected by ObamaCare, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said Tuesday.
In a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, Cummings asked HHS to provide documentation about any decisions to remove information from websites it maintains.
“The deletion of this information may violate federal law, which requires public notice before removing public information,” wrote Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “Deleting this information appears to be another attempt by the Trump Administration to undermine the [Affordable Care Act], and it contradicts the Department’s core mission ‘to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans.’”
A page titled “The Affordable Care Act & Medicare” was removed from the Medicare website without notice in December, according to a report by the government transparency group Sunlight Foundation. A link that led to that page and descriptive text about ObamaCare called “Medicare & the Marketplace” were also removed.
“We decided, based on outdated content and low usage, that the ACA & Medicare page was no longer relevant or needed and took action to remove the page on 12/21/17,” HHS told The Hill in May, pointing to the current “Medicare & the Marketplace” page that they said was more “relevant.”
The Sunlight Foundation has been publishing a series of reports about information being removed from federal health websites, including information about breast cancer, preventive services guaranteed by the ACA, and lesbian and bisexual health from the Office of Women’s Health.
In April, Cummings wrote to the agency with similar concerns about the decision to scrub that information, but he said HHS refused to provide his office any of the requested documents.
BY NATHANIEL WEIXEL – 08/07/18