September 28, 2023

Sun Life U.S. Applauds NIH Move to Designate People with Disabilities as a "Health Disparity Population"

Statement from Sun Life U.S. President Dan Fishbein on the new National Institutes of Health (NIH) equity designation, enabling greater research and analysis for the underserved group 

BOSTON, Sept. 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Dan Fishbein, M.D., president of Sun Life U.S., released the following statement regarding a federal change to designate people with disabilities as a population experiencing health disparities for NIH research:

Federal funding will now support projects focused on improving health access and outcomes for people with disabilities.

"Sun Life U.S. maintains a strong commitment to serving approximately 50 million Americans with a variety of benefits and programs, including disability insurance, accommodation services and return-to-work assistance. Yesterday's announcement from NIH leaders that federal funding will now support projects focused on improving access and outcomes for people with disabilities is a giant leap forward for a population that faces unique healthcare challenges. People with disabilities, much like other demographic groups already designated including race and socioeconomic status, experience significant disparities in outcomes and systemic obstacles to appropriate care.

This move to advance research and analysis – and hopefully inclusion among those conducting the studies – will be important as the U.S. health system continues to move beyond treating a disability as something to 'fix.' Designating funding sources to support this population can also encourage research into medical training, comorbidities, and the disparate outcomes for people with a disability and one or more additional designations.     

Increasing medical demand and reduced capacity has made accessing care for everyone difficult these days. For people with disabilities, finding competent care is even harder. And conversations around disability often overlook that anyone may become part of this now designated 'health disparity population' at any time for a variety of reasons due to illness or injury. It is why we are focused on improving access to care, particularly when people go through difficult clinical situations, rely on long-term disability support, need help navigating our complex healthcare system or more.

New research promoting health equity among people with disabilities can only better inform and deepen efforts to invest in more meaningful services and care."

Media Contact:
Maya Linson

SOURCE Sun Life U.S.