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Wednesday
Jul202011

Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R. 2649)

The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R. 2649) allows for expenditures for physical fitness programs and exercise equipment to be payable out of pre-tax health investment accounts such as flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs) and/or medical reimbursement arrangements.

How does the PHIT Act help your members?

Consumers with these spending and savings accounts can currently pay for prescription drugs and doctor visits with pre-tax dollars. The PHIT Act will allow activities such as health club memberships, youth sports programs, pilates and yoga classes, home exercise equipment, and other fees associated with programs of physical activity to be paid with pre-tax dollars as well.

What is going on with PHIT now?

The PHIT Act (House Resolution 2649) was reintroduced on July 26, 2011 by Congressmen Kevin Brady (R-TX).

The PHIT Act will make health club memberships and other fitness expenses even more affordable. Club members will be able to use pre-tax health savings accounts to pay for their memberships and portions of the costs of fitness equipment the same way they currently use the accounts to pay for prescription medications and doctor visits.

The PHIT Act significantly reduces physical fitness costs for the American public, giving them a greater incentive to join a fitness facility or purchase exercise equipment. This will help individual fitness facilities by making memberships even more affordable.

Join the Action

Become part of a nation-wide effort of fitness professionals to support positive health policy, such as the the PHIT Act. IHRSA has compiled a series a quick and easy steps you can take to encourage your US Representative, US Senators, and President Obama tp support the bill.

  • Write an email or a fax using the Exercise Your Rights online advocacy system. Simply enter your home and business address and the system determines your legislators. Then use the talking points provided to write your own personalized message. For tips on how to write an effective advocacy message, visit Grassroots Advocacy 101. It takes less than ten minutes to write a powerful advocacy message.

  • Call your legislators' offices. Follow-up a few days after sending your email or fax. Talking points for your call are available below and you can use the Elected Official Directory to look up their office phone numbers. Before you call, review our tips for calling legislators. Since legislative offices are very busy, calls generally take about 15 minutes.

  • Involve your staff. Encourage your club staff to take part in the advocacy effort. It's a great way to motivate them and let them speak out on something they are passionate about- sharing the joys of a healthy lifestyle.

  • Involve your members. Not only will many of them benefit from such legislation, but is also a positive way for them to speak out for the healthy habits they have adopted. We've even developed a special website for consumers to write to Congress on important health promotion legislation - campaign4health.org. Please be sure to direct your club members to these website and not the website for fitness professionals located on www.ihrsa.org

  • Visit their district offices. All members of Congress have offices located in their home district. While visiting a staff member at this office is a great option, you can try to arrange a meeting with your lawmakers themselves when they are working there during designated district work periods. Since there are no committee hearings or floor votes as they do in DC, they have more time available to meet with constituents. Learn more about office visits.

Key Information about the PHIT Act

The PHIT Act (H.R. 2649) would eliminate a federal policy barrier and create a financial incentive for Americans to engage in physical fitness and exercise.

Americans could utilize up to $2,000 annually from their tax-favored accounts (such as FSAs and HSAs) to make expenditures related to organized individual and team sports, fitness and exercise, recreation and other physical activities. The PHIT Act would not increase the total contribution limits to those pre-tax accounts.

Background

  • 64% of American adults and 34% of American children suffer from overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity. These rising rates of obesity and Americans’ proclivity for inactivity are resulting in double digit annual increases in healthcare costs to the government and business.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that healthcare costs directly associated with inactivity were $76.6 billion in 2000; roughly one-third of those costs ($25 billion) fall directly on U.S. taxpayers since approximately one in three Americans is covered by a taxpayer-funded health plan.
  • The PHIT Act would help to reverse the trend of increasing physical inactivity and obesity by eliminating a federal policy barrier and providing an important tax incentive to promote exercise.
  • Public health experts agree that regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases and medical conditions, resulting in fewer hospitalizations, physician visits, medications and lower healthcare costs.
  • The PHIT Act would change the types of expenditures that could be payable out of tax-favored investment accounts: flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health savings accounts (HSAs) and/or medical reimbursement arrangements.
  • Under the current set-up, Americans predominantly use pre-tax accounts to pay for treatment and detection of illnesses: prescription drugs, doctor visits, examinations and screenings.
  • The PHIT Act would allow consumers to to pay with pre-tax dollars for prevention in the form of increased physical activity, including:
    - fitness center dues
    - group exercise classes
    - youth sports league fees
    - some exercise equipment other fees associated with physical activity programs
  • Depending upon their income tax bracket, the PHIT Act could help Americans save 20-30% on the cost of physical activities, exercise programs and related expenses.
  • The PHIT Act tax incentive represents an important tangible benefit that the federal government can provide to promote healthier lifestyles and reverse the rising costs of treating obesity-related chronic diseases.
  • Fitness-related tax savings would provide a great incentive for Americans to take an important first step toward reversing their sedentary lifestyles and lowering healthcare costs.

Frequently Asked Questions about the PHIT Act

Why is the PHIT Act necessary?
The PHIT Act would eliminate a federal policy barrier and create a financial incentive to engage in physical fitness and exercise.  

What will the PHIT Act do?
The PHIT Act would change the types of expenditures that could be payable out of tax-favored investment accounts (such as FSAs and HSAs). Under the current set-up, Americans predominantly use pre-tax accounts to pay for treatment and detection of illnesses: prescription drugs, doctor visits, examinations and screenings.  

The PHIT Act would allow consumers to set aside up to $2,000 annually from their tax-favored accounts to make expenditures related to prevention in the form of increased physical activity, allowing fitness center dues, payments for some exercise equipment, and other fees associated with physical activity programs to be paid with pre-tax dollars.

What will the PHIT Act cost?
IHRSA has met with the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation and has requested an immediate “score” for the PHIT Act, which will determine the total cost of implementing the bill over a ten year period.  

Who is supporting the PHIT Act?
PHIT has strong bipartisan support. Current cosponsors include Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ron Kind (D-WI), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Mike McIntrye (D-NC), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Ron Paul (R-TX), C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersburger (D-MD), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), and Joe Barton (R-TX).

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