Must See Public Policy and Health Promotion Sessions at IHRSA 2015
IHRSA Industry Watch provides insight on how policy issues affect not only the health club industry, but your bottom line. You'll learn about efforts to protect the industry, and promote health clubs as a solution to the inactivity epidemic. You’ll also find information on pressing industry issues, industry leaders and leadership opportunities, health promotion opportunities and more.
For even more timely relevant news about advocacy issues affecting the club industry, subscribe to Capitol Report.
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Our Country is suffering from an Inactivity Epidemic
Despite the many proven health benefits of exercise; physical inactivity, obesity, and chronic disease continue to be growing problems. Meanwhile, we know that clubs (and their well-trained, caring, expert staff) truly are the solution to the inactivity epidemic.
While the industry is growing — health club memberships reached 50.2 million in 2013, an increase of 5.4% over 2012 — the majority of the population is still terribly inactive. And still, state legislatures continue to propose laws that put up additional barriers to exercise.
Therefore, IHRSA’s advocacy team works around-the-clock to Grow, Promote and Protect the industry.
Last October, Pat Laus, the founder and CEO of the Atlantic Club, in Manasquan, New Jersey, hosted a luncheon at the club to celebrate her signing of the CEO Pledge. She was joined by Peter Cancro, the founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s Subs, also based in Manasquan, which has 1,300 franchised sub shops open or under development across the U.S.
“I’m excited to sign the CEO Pledge on behalf of The Atlantic Club,” Laus said ina press release. “It goes hand in hand with our corporate mission to expand wellness and extend life for people of all ages. I believe it’s important to support and promote this mission with (respect to) our own employees.”
Helen Durkin, IHRSA's EVP of Global Public Policy penned the featured article today in Disruptive Women in Healthcare, an online community of thought leaders both in and outside healthcare.
Helen's article discusses the link between obesity and cancer development and applauds a position statement from the American Society of Clinical Oncology confirming their commitment to join the fight against obesity.
It also highlights the important services health clubs provide in cancer wellness treatment, as well as the efforts of The IHRSA Foundation to support programs that encourage these types of initiatives that use exercise, nutrition, and stress management as a way of helping cancer survivors lead healthier lives.
Last week, IHRSA's Public Policy Department issued for Legislative Alerts to Club Operators in three states. And, as we've seen recently, much of the reason for the alerts is good news, as lawmakers are considering financial incentives to exercise.
In Connecticut, lawmakers are currently considering multiple pieces of legislation that could affect Connecticut health clubs. IHRSA is working with our lobbying team in Hartford to represent the IHRSA member clubs' interests as the following three bills make their way through the legislature, including one that proposes to eliminate Connecticut’s sales tax on health club memberships and initiation fees. IHRSA members are invited to learn more here.
In Mississippi, lawmakers are considering a Tax Incentive for Employee Wellness. Legislation has been introduced in both the state house and senate that would create an income tax credit for Mississippi businesses that provide employee wellness programs. IHRSA will work to ensure that health club memberships are explicitly included as a part of a qualifying wellness program. IHRSA members are invited to learn more here.
In Minnesota, IHRSA is again teaming up with FIT Minnesota - a coalition of Minnesota-based health clubs - to advocate for the passage of legislation that would incentivize physical activity among state residents. With the support of IHRSA members across the state, we are optimistic that our goal will be reached in the 2015 session. IHRSA members are invited to learn more here.
To be sure you receive alerts for your state, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just as the practice of good health is a day-to-day campaign, so too is the effort to get governments to enact good health policy. IHRSA's promotion of physical exercise and anti-obesity policy is not just centered in the United States. Nor is it limited to one specific policy prescription. IHRSA works with a number of governments and uses the information we have regarding global lifestyle diseases as an entry into those decision makers.
For example, below is a letter to the editor and a story that shows the global harm from lifestyle diseases that the IHRSA policy team uses with public officials.
In response to an article in The New York Times, “Chronic Diseases Are Killing More in Poorer Countries,” Helen Durkin, IHRSA Executive Vice President of Global Public Policy wrote the following:
Your article exposes the insidious nature of chronic—or “lifestyle”— diseases and serves as a stark reminder that along with the benefits of urbanization comes a toll. As the world’s populations increasingly migrate to cities, lifestyles related to more sedentary occupations and living spaces are likely to take hold. As we have observed here in the U.S., environment (both social and built) radically affects living habits and health. Perhaps this report will help us more acutely recognize the global nature of the fight against chronic disease—and that the best, most cost-effective cure is to prevent it wherever and whenever we can. It’s time for our domestic and international health-funding policies to reflect that reality.
Helen Durkin, Executive Vice President of Global Public Policy, IHRSA
The Board of Commissioners in Warren County, Pennsylvania, has asked the Warren County YMCA to provide information verifying that it qualifies as a tax-exempt organization.
Failure to produce this tax-exempt status may mean that the YMCA will be forced to close down for good. The YMCA must also pass the HUP (Hospital Utilization Project v. Commonwealth) within the next 60 days. The test is designed to regulate the requirements that any organization must meet in order to be considered a “purely public charity.”
IHRSA advocates for equal tax-treatment of for profit health clubs and their not-for-profit competition. We will continue to closely monitor this issue.
Click here for more information.
New Jersey Bill Calls for New Membership Contract Requirements for Health Clubs
Legislation has been introduced in the New Jersey legislature that would impose new, potentially costly and burdensome requirements for health club operators in the Garden State.
Assembly Bill 4034 would require clubs that automatically renew membership contracts to send a notice to members within 60 to 90 days following completion of the initial contract agreement and the initiation of the automatic renewal. The notification would have to be sent by registered or certified mail.
IHRSA is currently working with our lobbyist in Trenton on outreach to key legislators to communicate the negative impact that this bill would have on NJ clubs. To learn more about the bill and our efforts in New Jersey, IHRSA members are invited to read more...
In 2014, IHRSA identified and neutralized consumer protection threats in 7 states. IHRSA anticipates that membership contract restrictions will be an issue in 21 states, and we are working with our legislators to ensure that no harmful bills move forward in 2015.
January, traditionally, is a busy month for both health clubs and state legislatures. While clubs are dealing with a flurry of new members armed with New Year’s resolutions, legislators are returning to work to process a flurry of new bills.
Many of the proposals they’ll consider have the potential to affect clubs, possibly in adverse ways, so operators are well advised to keep an eye on legislative developments. The following are several types of legislation that might surface this month, or later in the 2015 session, as well as tips to prepare you to respond effectively in the event they’re introduced.