Co-founder and previous executive director of Doctors for America Mandy Cohen was just tapped to lead the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Under Cohen’s tenure as executive director, Doctors for America worked to advance Obama’s legislative agenda, quite literally lending the credibility of a white coat to the then-president’s policy proposals. Cohen left her position as executive director in 2011, but has since maintained ties with the group, with a 2021 press release saying “[Mandy] Cohen’s legacy continues today” in the organization.
Originally founded as Doctors for Obama, Doctors for America has a long history of political activism, often outside the realm of medicine. The organization has urged the CDC to research gun violence and classify it as a public health epidemic, which critics say is both outside of the scope of the CDC and could be used as a tool to push anti-second amendment policies.
Coincidently, the CDC is the same agency that Cohen herself is now nominated to run.
The organization has also argued, “climate change really needs to be reframed as a public health issue,” even though the issue is well outside the scope of the practice of medicine.
Doctors for America is also outspoken on the notably non-medical issue of law enforcement. In 2020, the organization worked to create a report recommending reducing and reallocating police funding, and published guidelines calling for emptying jails. That proposal coincided with a 29% increase in murder and homicide.
Mandy Cohen’s ties to Doctors for America should raise eyebrows. While we hope that Cohen will restore the credibility of the country’s public health institutions with a no-nonsense approach, Congress, watchdog organizations, and the public should keep a close eye on her tenure to ensure politics doesn’t undermine the core mission of the CDC.