- The Trump administration has reportedly banned multiple agencies at the Department of Health and Human Services from using certain words in budget documents – not just the CDC.
- The banned words include “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” and “diversity.”
- Even the State Department has reportedly received guidance to refer to sex education as “sexual risk avoidance.”
The Trump administration’s ban on certain words from official budget documents reportedly extends beyond the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and applies to multiple agencies across the Department of Health and Human Services, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Health experts were aghast after the newspaper reported the previous day that CDC officials were barred from using seven words or phrases, including “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”
But officials at a second HHS agency were similarly guided against using “entitlement,” “diversity,” and “vulnerable,” one official who was briefed on the changes told the Post. The official added that the agency was also instructed to use “Obamacare” to refer to the Affordable Care Act and “exchanges” rather than “marketplaces.”
The State Department has also received guidance to refer to sex education as “sexual risk avoidance” in certain documents, the Post reported.
The HHS official, who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity and did not want to name the agency, said that no explanations were given for the new guidance, which came from a document from the Office of Management and Budget. It’s unclear whether the OMB has provided similar guidance to other agencies.
“Here’s a word that’s still allowed: ‘ridiculous,'” Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, told the Associated Press in a statement.
‘Absurd and Orwellian’
- Thomson Reuters
One medical leader who works with CDC staffers but is employed by a separate agency told the Associated Press that the language ban may not be limited to budget documents.
He added that two CDC employees told him they were instructed not to use the term “health equity” in presentations or public talks. The term refers to the goal of providing equal access to health care and removing obstacles such as poverty or racial discrimination.
Others, however, have said the language ban is likely intended only for budget documents in an effort to appease Republicans who might otherwise not approve it.
“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,” one former federal official told The New York Times. “They’re saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you.”
HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd told the Associated Press in a statement that it’s a “complete mischaracterization” to say the CDC was “banned” from using the words.
“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,” Lloyd said.