December 21, 2017 PDF

The Honorable Eric Hargan
Acting Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
330 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20416

Dear Acting Secretary Hargan:

Our organizations were deeply concerned to read the reports in the Washington Post starting on Friday, December 15, 2017, that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) budget analysts were informed they are discouraged from using seven words – including ‘“vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based”’ – as they prepare the President’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget. As the nation’s premier public health agency, the CDC cannot carry out its mission of improving the health and safety of all Americans when its staff are urged to avoid using basic phrases that are so intrinsic to public health. 

CDC serves as the command center for the nation’s public health defense system against emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, and other threats to health and safety. From aiding in the surveillance, detection and prevention of the Zika virus to playing a lead role in the control of Ebola in West Africa and detecting and responding to cases in the U.S., to monitoring and investigating disease outbreaks to pandemic flu preparedness, to addressing chronic diseases. CDC is the nation’s – and the world’s –expert resource and response center, coordinating communications and action and serving as the laboratory reference center. States, communities and the international community rely on CDC for accurate information and direction in a crisis or outbreak. In the United States, CDC serves as a leader in the federal-state-local public health enterprise, which encompasses state, territorial and local health agencies that protect the public every day. None of this can occur unless CDC is able to convey who is at risk, what the risk is and how the science dictates the risk be addressed using established language – including the seven words as appropriate.

Science is the bedrock of sound public health and medical decision-making – and it should not be subject to partisan politics. HHS – including CDC – will not be successful in improving the health of Americans affected by these conditions if there is political interference – real or perceived – whether it be aimed at language or at undermining key scientific principles and policies. Our organizations urge the Department of Health and Human Services to assure the Department’s public health professionals and the public that science – and descriptions of it – remain at the heart of its mission. We look forward to your response clarifying these troubling reports.


1,000 Days


Academic Pediatric Association

Academy for Eating Disorders

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Action for a Better Tomorrow - Sauk Valley

Action on Smoking and Health

Addiction Connections Resource

Advocate Medical Group

Advocates for Better Children's Diets

Advocates for Youth

African American Health Alliance

Alaska Public Health Association

Ali Forney Center

Allergy & Asthma Network

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

American Academy of HIV Medicine

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Association of Directors of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

American Association of Health and Disability

American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

American College of Physicians

American College of Preventive Medicine

American Council on Exercise

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Federation of Teachers

American Geriatrics Society

American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering

American Lung Association

American Medical Student Association

American Muslim Health Professionals

American Pediatric Society

American Podiatric Medical Association, Inc.

American Public Health Association

American Sexual Health Association

American Society for Microbiology

American Society of Hematology

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

American Statistical Association

American Thoracic Society

Arkansas Public Health Association

Asian Services In Action

Association of Accredited Public Health Programs

Association of Black Cardiologists

Association of Clinicians for the Underserved

Association of Departments of Family Medicine

Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors

Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care

Association of Ohio Health Commissioners, Inc.

Association of Population Centers

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

Baltimore City Health Department

Big Cities Health Coalition

Blue Ridge Pride Center, Inc.

Boston Public Health Commission

Boulder County Public Health

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center

Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Building Home Together

CAEAR Coalition

California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

California Public Health Association-North

Callen-Lorde Community Health Center

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Cancer Council of the Pacific Islands

Celmatix Inc.

Center for American Progress

Center for Reproductive Rights

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Center on Halsted

Center on Social Disparities in Health, University of California, San Francisco


Chicago Department of Public Health

Children's Environmental Health Network

Cleveland Department of Public Health

Coalition for Health Funding

Colorado Children's Immunization Coalition

Colorado Health Institute

Community Health Councils

Connecticut Public Health Association

Contact Wellness Foundation

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

CRI International Center for Biotechnology

Crohn's & Colitis Foundation

Delaware Academy of Medicine / Delaware Public Health Association

Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Michigan State University

Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation

Detroit Wayne County Health Authority (d.b.a. Authority Health)

Doctors for America

Dorchester County Health Department

Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

East Bay Refugee Forum

Element Health, Inc.

Entomological Society of America

Equality New York

EverThrive Illinois

Ferring Pharmaceuticals


Friends of the Earth

Futures Without Violence

Gay & Lesbian Center of Bakersfield

Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center

GC University Lahore

Georgia Public Health Association

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality

Green & Healthy Homes Initiative

Hawaii Public Health Association

Health Resources in Action


Henry Ford Medical Group

Hepatitis B Foundation

Hispanic Federation

HIV Medicine Association

HLN Consulting, LLC

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

Human Impact Partners

Identity Youth Center

Illinois Public Health Association

Immunization Action Coalition

Immunize Nevada

Indivisible Brookfield

Indivisible Carbondale

Indivisible Illinois

Indivisible South Suburban Chicago

Infectious Diseases Society of America

Institute for Basic Research

Institute of Systems Biology

Iowa Public Health Association

IQ Products

Jacobs Institute of Women's Health


Juneau Biosciences, LLC

Kansas City, Missouri Health Department

Kentucky Population Health Institute


Lakeshore Foundation

Latino Commission on AIDS

LGBT Center OC

LGBT Detroit

LGBT Network

LGBTQ Law Project of NYLAG

Local Public Health Association of Minnesota

Long Island Crisis Center

Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY)

Long Island LGBT Community Center (The Center)

Long Island Pride

Louisiana Public Health Association

Lung Cancer Alliance

Lynchburg Diversity Center

Magee-Womens Research Institute

March of Dimes

Maricopa County Department of Public Health

Mazzoni Center

Medical Students for Choice

Missouri Public Health Association

MJH Grant Consulting

Montgomery County Health Department

Montana Public Health Association

NARAL Pro-Choice America


National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research

National Association for Health and Fitness

National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems

National Association of Councils on Development Disabilities

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Black Justice Coalition

National Black Nurses Association

National Blood Clot Alliance

National Center for Health Research (NCHR)

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Coalition for LGBT Health

National Coalition of STD Directors

National Collaborative for Health Equity

National Consumers League

National Council of Jewish Women

National Health Care for the Homeless Council

National Health Law Program

National Hispanic Medical Association

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Medical Association

National Network of Public Health Institutes

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives

National Recreation and Park Association

National Tuberculosis Controllers Association

National Women's Health Network

Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors

Nevada Public Health Association

New Hampshire Public Health Association

New Mexico Public Health Association

New Mexico Public Health Institute

New Progressive Alliance

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

North American Primary Care Research Group

North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology

North Carolina Public Health Association

North County LGBTQ Resource Center

North Dakota Public Health Association

Ohio Public Health Association

one n ten

Oregon Public Health Association

Origins FTD, Inc.

Out Alliance

Pacific Pride Foundation


Pediatric Policy Council

Pennsylvania Public Health Association

People For the American Way

Physicians for Reproductive Health

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Population Association of America

Power to Decide

Pregnancy Specialty Center of Texas

Prevent Blindness

Prevention Institute

Pride and Joy Families/Lesbian and Gay Family Building Project

Pride at Work

Pride Center of the Capital Region

Pride for Youth

Program on Endocrine Disruptor Strategies, Commonweal

Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment

Progressive Congress Action Fund

Projects for Environmental Health, Knowledge, & Action, Inc.

Public Citizen

Public Health Advocates

Public Health Association of Nebraska

Public Health Association of NYC

Public Health Institute

Public Health Justice Collective

Pulmonary Fibrosis Advocates

Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Coalition

Rainbow Center

Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness


Resource Center

Results for America

Robinson Research Institute

S2AY Rural Health Network

Sacramento LGBT Community Center

Safe States Alliance


San Antonio Metropolitan Health District

San Francisco AIDS Foundation

School-Based Health Alliance

Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders - Long Island (SAGE-LI)

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)

SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators

Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

Society for Pediatric Research

Society for Public Health Education

Society for Reproductive Biology

Society for the Study of Reproduction

Society of General Internal Medicine

Society of Teachers of Family Medicine

South Carolina Public Health Association

Southern Tier AIDS Program

Southwest Center for Health Innovation

Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision

Spina Bifida Association

State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine, Nanjing Medical University


Sustainability and Health Equity Lab/University of California, Berkeley

Texas Association of City & County Health Officials

The AIDS Institute

The Arc of the United States

The Center: 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection

The Consortium

The Cortland LGBTQ Center

The Empowered Patient Coalition

The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada

The Immunization Partnership

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

The LGBT Center of Greater Reading

The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach

The LOFT LGBT Center

The Los Angeles Trust for Children's Health

The National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable

The Pride Center at Equality Park

The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital

The San Diego LGBT Community Center

The Source LGBT+ Center

The Trevor Project

The University of Texas Medical Branch

Transgender Law Center

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund

Trust for America’s Health

Truth Initiative

UC Irvine Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute

University Reproductive Associates


Utah Public Health Association

Vermont Public Health Association

Washington County Gay Straight Alliance, Inc.

Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials

Washington State Public Health Association

Welcome Back Initiative

West Suburban Action League

West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

Whitman-Walker Health

Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health

Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards

Wisconsin Public Health Association

Woodstock Institute

Youth Outlook

Youth OUTright WNC, Inc.

Cc: Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention