CDC disputes widespread ‘word ban’ reports
After reports that the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had taken steps to ban the words “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “fetus,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based”; Director Brenda Fitzgerald took to Twitter to attempt to clear the misconceptions. “I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs,” Fitzgerald tweeted.
However, when the story originally broke in the Washington Post, a group of policy analysts at the Department of Human Health Services told reporters that some senior officials at the CDC gave them replacement phrases, and in follow up reporting by the New York Times some CDC officials allegedly told their reporters that the changing of phrases was not an actual ban, but a move to secure Republican support for the CDC’s budget in 2019.
In addition to this, Matt Lloyd, a spokesperson for the D.H.H.S. released the following statement: “The assertion that H.H.S. has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process… H.H.S. will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. H.H.S. also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”
This story highlights tensions that the current leadership is very good at creating. There seems to be an expected leaning into the policies, procedure and agenda of Trump’s White House in order for some of the more cash strapped agencies such as the CDC to be able to justify receiving funds from the Republican leadership, which has shown a willingness to cut the budgets of important national programs like the National Endowment for the Arts.
While the CDC’s funding future is up in the air, the national health community is concerned that playing politics will endanger the lives of those Americans who live on the margins of an agenda that does not mind placing their specific needs in jeopardy.