Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

CDC receives a list of forbidden words

The Trump administration reportedly told agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services to avoid using certain words or phrases in official documents being drafted for next year's budget A spokesperson from the HHS disputes this CDC receives a list of forbidden words
Carol Daniels | 21 December, 2017, 01:11

A department spokesman further said that the guidance came from within HHS, not from the Office of Management and Budget. These [terms] are "avoid when possible" terms in a style guide specifically intended for budget documents. It provided just one exception: the words could be used "when the terms are referenced within a legal citation or part of a title". "It's about a budget strategy to get funded".

HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd said Monday that employees had misinterpreted the directive. "It was clearly stated to those involved in the discussions that the science should always drive the narrative". He noted, "This was all about providing guidance to those who would be writing those budget proposals". But she said she did not know if there was any specific prohibition about using those seven words. "The idea that it's all a misunderstanding is laughable". It was also told to use "ObamaCare" as opposed to the "Affordable Care Act" and to refer to "marketplaces", where people purchase health insurance, as "exchanges".

Lloyd said the document originated within HHS.

The Trump administration's budget for the next fiscal year is due to be released in February. HHS staffers may have crafted language aimed at courting favor with lawmakers, Cole said. "Science is and will remain the foundation of our work", Fitzgerald said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), another HHS branch, stated that there were no word bans there.

A government official added, "It's absurd and Orwellian, it's stupid and Orwellian, but they are not saying to not use the words in reports or articles or scientific publications or anything else the CDC does". None of Obama's three most recent budget requests mentions either word. She said they were "vulnerable, diversity, and entitlement". The analyst requested anonymity because the person is not authorized to speak publicly about the meeting.

The budget preparers were instructed that instead of the phrase "evidence-based", they can say, "CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes". Another senior budget official told the group that "evidence-based" and "science-based" had been used so often in budget documents that their meaning had been diluted.

CDC receives a list of forbidden words

The source in the Washington Post report said budget officials recommended replacing "evidence-based" or "science-based" with the phrase "science in consideration with community norms and standards", which the three groups today called unsafe and misleading.

Another source inside the CDC claimed that although a meeting took place, no words were "forbidden".

An HHS official did not respond to any additional questions.

"If you are saying you can not use words like "transgender" and 'diversity, ' it's a clear statement that you can not pay attention to these issues". The representative said that draft budgets had been sent back by the White House with those words circled for "correction". "HHS also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions".

The budget analyst present at the meeting does not recall the conversation unfolding in that way.

A second HHS agency was told not to use the phrases "entitlement", "diversity" and "vulnerable", in documents.

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