HHS speaks out on reported 'ban' on words at CDC

HHS called a reported "ban" at CDC of words such as "evidence-based," "diversity" and "science-based" in budget documents a "mischaracterization," according to The New York Times.

"The assertion that HHS has 'banned words' is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process," an agency spokesman, Matt Lloyd, told the publication via email. "HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions."

The NYT stated it asked Mr. Lloyd other questions about the report that revealed the reported ban, but those questions went unanswered.

The reported ban at CDC was revealed Dec. 15 by The Washington Post. That report stated senior CDC officials informed the agency's policy analysts of the forbidden terms during a Dec. 14 meeting in Georgia. The forbidden terms are "diversity," "entitlement," "fetus," "transgender," "vulnerable," "evidence-based" and "science-based." The Washington Post reported that in some instances, analysts were given replacement phrases.

In discussing the article, a few officials confirmed some details reported by The Washington Post to the NYT, but suggested the proposal aimed to provide recommended language that may spur a greater likelihood of budget approval by the GOP, rather than an outright ban.

Vivek Murthy, MD, a former U.S. surgeon general, expressed concern about the alleged CDC ban to the NYT.

"Whether this is a directive from above [HHS] is not clear," he told the publication. "But for CDC or any agency to be censored or passively made to feel they have to self-censor to avoid retribution — that's dangerous and not acceptable. The purpose of science is to search for truth, and when science is censored the truth is censored."

Alia Paavola contributed to this report. 





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