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The Public Pulse: A frightening ban on words
20 December 2017, 01:03 | Marta Robbins
CDC denies word ban
Multiple agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have reportedly been told by the Trump administrationthat they can not use certain phrases in official documents. The agency is able to protect public health through science precisely because its policies are based on science and evidence. It's likely that other parts of HHS are operating under the same guidelines regarding the use of these words, the analyst said ...
It doesn't matter from whom; the very idea of a banned list of words is subversive.
In lieu of "evidence-based" and "science-based", the CDC budget analysts were directed to use the phrase 'CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.' Alternatives for the other terms were not yet provided.
Policy analysts were told of the list in a 90-minute briefing with senior CDC officials, the Washington Post reported. On Sunday, in a series of tweets, CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald asserted that "there are no banned words at CDC".
A former federal official offered an explanation, saying that the move is not about censorship.
"I understand that confusion arose from a staff-level discussion at a routine meeting about how to present CDC's budget".
The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, "will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans", HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd told The Washington Post. She reiterated the HHS statement, which also said the department also strongly encourages the used of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.
And on Monday, Dec. 18, Politico.com reportedthat HHS is refusing to release more than 10,000 public comments submitted in response to a proposal to reduce HHS regulations with regard to religious groups.
The groups also worry that the budget language requests might make federal agencies hesitant to request money for science-based public health requests that are politically controversial. The change in language is meant to be incorporated in budget materials to be given to Congress as part of the president's 2019 budget, set for release in February, 2018. "When ideology, fear, and ignorance dominate discourse in the public health arena, consequences are deadly", they wrote, noting that the federal government's unwillingness to acknowledge the appearance of HIV three decades ago enabled the disease to spread further and faster. For example, they said community sentiments could result in higher rates of unimmunized children, which could fuel more outbreaks of measles and other diseases.
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