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Tuesday
Apr212009

The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP Act)  

The WHIP Act would make it easier for employers to offer health club memberships to employees. Under current tax law, employers are permitted to deduct the cost of onsite exercise facilities. However, if an employer provides this same benefit at an offsite facility, it cannot take advantage of the tax deduction and employees who use the benefit must pay income tax on the value of the subsidy. 

The WHIP Act would eliminate this inequity, allowing for the balanced tax treatment of health club memberships as an employee benefit, 're-affirming employers' right to deduct the cost of providing health club benefits to their workers and exclude the wellness benefit from being considered additional income for employees. 

What's going on with WHIP now?

The WHIP Act is currently part of a larger, comprehensive wellness bill, The Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention America Act (HeLP Act), introduced in U.S. Senate on January 22, 2013, by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA). 

Join the Campaign

  • 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. It takes about five 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 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.

 

Supporting Points

  • 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.

Reader Comments (1)

Great to rework the bill that is intended to support the many components to yield the expected results. In http://www.ncppa.org/static/assets/helpamericaact.s39.pdf entirety we will uncover more I am sure. We know that healthy living for oneself starts with a needs assessment of oneself not government’s expectations. And with all the pillars we might say of complete wellness each is dependent on the success of another. In an imperfect world the laws do not generally fair well.

A beginning is good, yet you will have enough squeaky wheels wheezing about what they individually do not have to do. Then we run full circle taking care of those who think it my job to fund their health choices.
I do believe that the poll that revealed that “78% of Americans claim that they would exercise more regularly if their employer subsidized a fitness center membership." is realistic in part... Yet at day’s end a program that uses saved money to save money is as good as the providers success plans (independent wellness providers, health/fitness/sport clubs, recreation industry areas, medical facilities, etc) and ultimately the measured results real intentions.
I believe that the $ that fund the facility providers needs to be shared with the exercise recipient on their own tax returns. A tax credit for all parties who participate in a comprehensive health plan of activity should be permitted, right?. Does Bocce ball count? Does rappelling count? Yet who is going to monitor participation, 1 time, 2 times or some other arbitrary frequency and in which modality?

I have seen over and over when Government oversees using its constraints/rules you generally place on the free market providers -- unrealistic restrictions. The government is a non-profit operating like a for profit without any accountability of its own. Who said it would be easy.
Having said these things, I am for the idea of incentives, the idea input, the idea of inspiring the masses to get off their A _ _ es.

At day’s end just getting up and moving whatever arbitrary number of steps a day should count too, right.

Would like to be a consultant bringing truth the plan, contact me via email at tkennedy@balancewalking.com – Terry D. Kennedy Ex Dir of Balance Walking.
April 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterterry d kennedy

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