The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP Act)
The WHIP Act would prevent employees who are offered employer subsidized health club membership from paying a tax on the benefit. Current law imposes the income tax on the value of the membership or subsidy on the individual, unless the fitness center is on-site of the employer. Passing the WHIP Act would give Congress the opportunity to promote workplace fitness programs at all companies, large and small.
What's going on with WHIP now?
The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (S. 2296) introduced into the 114th Congress by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) on November 18, 2015.
Join the Campaign
- Call your legislators' offices. Follow-up a few days after sending your email or fax. Talking points for your call are available and you can use the Elected Official Directory to look up their office phone numbers. Since legislative offices are very busy, calls generally take about 15 minutes.
- 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.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that healthcare costs directly associated with inactivity exceeded $76 billion in 2000; roughly one-third of those costs ($25 billion) fall directly on the U.S. taxpayer since approximately one in three Americans is covered by a taxpayer-funded health plan.
- Public health experts agree that people who maintain active healthy lifestyles dramatically reduce their risk of contracting chronic diseases, and a physically fit population results in a decrease in healthcare costs and improved worker productivity.
- In 2005, the Joint Committee on Taxation determined that the provisions of the WHIP Act would cost $526 million over a ten year period. This moderate budget estimate stands in stark contrast to the $25 billion in annual healthcare savings the CDC estimates the federal government could achieve if every American adult engaged in regular exercise.
- The WHIP Act alone will not get every American off the couch and moving, but recent polling reveals that 78% of Americans claim that they would exercise more regularly if their employer subsidized a fitness center membership.
- By enacting the WHIP Act, Congress has the opportunity to create the most conducive environment possible for promoting additional workplace fitness programs at companies, both large and small. Given its relatively low cost to high return on investment, the WHIP Act represents a win-win wellness benefit that will put more money back into Americans' pockets while at the same time promoting healthier lifestyles and reducing the national healthcare expenditure.