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IHRSA Advocate

The IHRSA Advocate is your guide to knowing and understanding the policies that influence daily health club operations. We analyze the action, so you know when to take your own.

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Entries in Affordable Care Act (18)


Increase in Annual Wellness Visits, More Referrals for Clubs

More Americans are using their preventative health benefits provided to them by the Affordable Care Act, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a press release. Nearly 20.5 million people with Medicare reviewed their health status at a free Annual Wellness Visit or received other preventive services with no deductible or cost sharing so far in 2011, said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS).

Annual wellness visits include six key components, including measuring Body Mass Index (BMI), furnishing patients with personal health advice and coordinating appropriate referrals and health education. To date there is minimal data, but for health clubs working with local physicians, these numbers possess significant potential for referral increases for obese adults.

This status report echoes an earlier announcement in March, in which officials stated that in less than two months after the new health care law took effect, more than 150,000 seniors and others with Medicare have received an annual wellness visit.

For more information on how the health care reform impacts the industry, visit


Employers Find Increase in Wellness Incentive "Most Beneficial" Element of Health Reform Law

Results from a recent survey by Lockton Benefit Group, the world’s largest privately held insurance broker, show that employers found the increase in employee wellness incentives to be the most beneficial element of the health reform law. This is promising data for the fitness industry as we near 2014, when employers will be able to offer an incentive of up to 30 percent of an employee's total healthcare premium, if the employee is doing everything asked to improve his or her health and reduce medical costs. The more employers recognize the cost-savings of a healthy workforce, the more health clubs will be sought out as resources for wellness. Learn more about how the health care reform law affects clubs at

Click here to review the complete results of Lockton's May 2011 Employer Health Reform Survey.


HHS Makes $40 Million Available for Prevention of Chronic Disease  

Yesterday the US Health and Human Services Department announced that it will provide all 58 US states and territories with funding in support of efforts to prevent chronic disease and promote health, including environmental and policy changes related to physical activity (this is in addition to the $100 million announced last month). Created by the Affordable Care Act, this initiative targets the nation’s five leading chronic disease-related causes of death and disability: heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis.

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HHS Allocates $16 million to Let’s Move!

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has allocated $16 million to the Let’s Move! ( initiative. The funds will be used to advance activities to improve nutrition and increase physical activity to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce obesity related conditions and costs. In addition, $112 million has been dedicated to preventive health services, which includes strengthening employer participation in wellness programs. (View the complete outline of funding priorities). 

The funding is part of a larger commitment on behalf of HHS to “promote a health in all policies approach that creates environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice.”

Want to know how the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund affects your club’s state? Find out here in a state-by-state synopsis.


What the Tanning Tax Means for Your Club

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued regulations relating to the ten percent excise tax on indoor tanning services, which exempts “qualified physical fitness facilities”. The exception is designed to exempt health clubs that provide access to tanning devices as part of membership fees. However, due to the multitude of ways clubs charge members for various services, there is understandable confusion as to how the tax on tanning impacts each health club.

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Medicare Implements Wellness Changes

For health clubs working with local physicians, the new Medicare rules could mean an increase in referrals of obese, older adults. “There are an increasing number of clubs in the industry creating specialized programs for this population,” says Helen Durkin, executive vice president of IHRSA Public Policy. “For these clubs, the Medicare changes means more potential members coming in their doors because more doctors will be counseling and referring their patients on sustainable weight loss behaviors, including exercise.”

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HHS Announces $250 Million in Prevention Funding

On Friday, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced an additional $250 million in funding for prevention and public health from the Affordable Care Act. “Investing in prevention and public health builds the foundation for improving the health and well-being of Americans, and for lowering costs in the health care system,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Investing in proven preventive services will help patients get the care they need early, avoiding costly and unnecessary care later. This prevention-focused approach is better for doctors, patients, and our national balance sheet.” 

The funding is the second allocation for fiscal year 2010 from the new $500 million Prevention and Public Health fund created by the Affordable Care Act. Part of the funding will support federal, state and community prevention initiatives on obesity prevention and fitness. 

“With these investments, we are tackling the underlying causes of chronic diseases as well as strengthening our ability to meet the public health challenges of the 21st century,” said Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin. “This moves America in the direction of becoming a fit and healthy nation.”


Obama Signs Health Care Reform Bill Into Law

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590). The legislation, with the amendments passed by the Senate, was passed by the House of Representatives on Sunday. An analysis of the new law, including provisions with potential impact on health clubs and businesses in available online at

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