There was a good deal of content missing from HealthCare.Gov as of Feb. 17, 2017, and some senators sought answers from HHS Secretary Price. Although it seems like some of that content is back up (with changes), and that some problems we cite here do seem to be getting fixed, we should still call attention to this slightly bizarre happening.
On Feb. 17 it had seemed that the Trump administration had started undoing the wording of healthcare.gov (like they did with the EPA). That seemed to imply that specific ACA provisions might be in jeopardy, or that there might be a hidden motive.
For example, as of Feb. 17, 2017, site visitors could no longer see key information about the ACA’s provisions such as:
- Prohibiting insurers from dropping coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.
- Allowing young adults to stay on their parents plan.
- Requiring insurers to provide essential health benefits like cancer screenings and no-cost birth control.
- Banning insurers from lifetime and annual limits.
- And ensuring health insurers cover emergency room visits.
We can confirm this because our site is very focused on the Affordable Care Act and thus we are aware of healthcare.gov’s pages, content, and search rankings. Thus, when things changed considerably and quickly, it was an odd occurrence for us personally.
Our first thought was that perhaps website was just getting an update and someone decided that taking the pages down was better than editing one-by-one. That is reasonable strategy for a site update, if not a perfect strategy.
However, there is also some concern that the reasons were a little less simple and we had to wonder: Does this mean that all the things removed from the site will be repealed?
That is a scary prospect, because those things have been promised by Trump, included in past GOP replacement plans, and are rather good. There was no hint that things like annual limits would be on the chopping block in past plans.
More bizarre than just the appearing and reappearing pages and missing content is the slightly broken on-page search.
Why is there no search results returned when I search for “subsidies” or “cost assistance”? Is the search broken? I can poke around and find some info, but the rankings are gone, the wording of pages changed, and the search doesn’t seem to be working?
That is a lot of red-flags.
Is this an anti-SEO thing where HHS is trying to decrease access to information to aid in a transition or a death spiral message? Or is this just early red-flags pointing to the idea that really, really, this is all on the chopping block. Or, is this just a well-intentioned revamp where we are reading too much into things? I’m willing to entertain any of those questions, and obviously we have our fingers crossed that the last one is the correct one.
I don’t like to speculate, but I’m with Patty Murray (the great Washington progressive who signed her name to the letter above), it would be nice, to have some answers here.
We are glad to see parts of the site back up, but a little disturbing to see these signs. With the EPA the warning signs were followed by actual policy changes, so it isn’t unreasonable to fear the same for the ACA.
Now is this just a matter of changing “According to the EPA, All major scientific agencies of the United States—including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—agree that climate change is occurring and that humans are contributing to it” to “According to the EPA, the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years”? Or is it something more?
I can deal with the nuance as long as we are generally illustrating the facts and agree on the basics.
If however this is something more shady, the people have a right to know.
Those who support the law don’t want to be told what their new healthcare plan is, they want to be asked for input. They don’t want their protections repealed, they want a better plan.
Anyone who thinks we are going to let tens of millions go without healthcare haven’t been listening to the other tens of millions these past 8 years (sure, one tens says repeal, and they were very loud, but just wait until you hear the other tens).
Patient Protections aren’t about politics, they are about patients. Affordable Care isn’t about ideology, it is about common people and common pocketbooks.
Let us seek a better healthcare plan, not ideological ends and talking points. To do that, we need to ensure everyone has access to the right information, when we don’t agree on what is right, then at least we can present the two views and let the people decide.