Just as scientists are scrambling to archive government climate data before President-elect Donald Trump and his "climate denial cabinet" take office, researchers are moving to download and secure "key healthcare data and documents" ahead of Inauguration Day, Politico reports Wednesday.
The activity—reportedly encouraged by the White House's top health reform official—is spurred by anxieties about Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as promised by Trump and GOP campaigners during the election. It also reflects concerns about an incoming administration that "has already cast doubt on the veracity of government data, for instance, regarding the unemployment rate," as Politico's Dan Diamond writes.
Diamond spoke with independent researchers, who said
their fears have grown since seeing reports that climate researchers—working on policies that have also become highly politicized—are copying their own data sets to ensure their continued availability. Anxieties also increased after the Trump transition team asked the Energy Department to identify employees who worked on President Barack Obama's climate initiatives. Even though the agency declined to share those names, and the Trump team disavowed the effort, researchers' concerns snowballed.
Several told Politico that they were unnerved by candidate Trump's falsehoods about the economy and the health care law, and they're worried that agencies will feel pressure to fall in line. That's why they've launched their proactive effort to stockpile health data and are keeping tabs on their combined progress.
Diamond further reported:
[T]his transition could have far-reaching consequences for HHS's data integrity, given the vehement opposition by Trump and his lieutenants to Obamacare and their challenges of official government data.
"It's a serious concern," said a former HHS researcher, who experienced the Clinton-to-Bush handoff in 2001 and believes this one will be significantly worse. "We've seen during Trump's campaign, and at the beginning of the transition...a lot of statements where the distinctions between rhetoric and fact become very loose."
Posting a link to the Politico story, news commentator Joy-Ann Reid wrote, "You would be forgiven for wondering what country and decade this refers to."