BOSTON, MA—March 12, 2019—IHRSA announced today its support for the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT), just newly introduced into the 116th Congress. The legislation champions Americans in their efforts to live healthier lifestyles by making it easier to cover exercise expenses with pre-tax dollars. IHRSA’s pivotal role in promoting this bill is part of its broader leadership stance in advancing physically active lifestyles in the battle against chronic disease and out-of-control health care costs.
“We congratulate and thank Senators Thune and Murphy and Representatives Kind and Kelly for recognizing that we can’t fix our health care problem without addressing the largely preventable diseases that drive so much of the spending,” said Helen Durkin, IHRSA executive vice president for public policy and president of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA), a coalition of over 40 of the leading national health promotion organizations advocating for policies that encourage Americans of all ages to be physically
PHIT is federal legislation that would let people use pre-tax accounts, like Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), to pay for qualified fitness expenses, including youth sports fees, exercise equipment, health club membership and other exercise costs. If passed, families could use $2,000 pre-tax for fitness activities, and individuals could budget up to $1,000—effectively saving consumers 20 to 30 percent on exercise costs.
Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced PHIT (S.680) on March 6, 2019. Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Mike Kelly (R-PA) introduced PHIT (H.R.1679) into the House on March 12, 2019.
“Exercise is extremely instrumental in helping to prevent many costly chronic diseases and in supporting good mental health for people of all ages,” Durkin continued. “The universal appeal of this particular bill is that it supports people in their personal efforts to take charge of their health and lead more physically active lifestyles by giving them greater choice in how their health care dollars are spent.”
For many Americans, it isn’t so much the lack of will to exercise that stands in their way. Rather, other barriers, including budgetary constraints, too often tip the scale in their decision making.
But if a family could use their HSA or FSA to pay the fee for their 10-year-old to play on a community soccer team so he stays physically active, or if a single-mom could use these accounts to pay for a yoga class to help better manage stress, or if an 80-something living alone could use those health care dollars to go to the local gym and take part in a group tai chi class, these taxpayers would be more likely to take steps toward better health, adding up in the long term to savings for the healthcare system.
“PHIT is really about empowering people to choose how their health care dollars are spent so making the health-sustaining choice is so much easier,” Durkin continued. “PHIT just requires a simple adjustment to the tax code. But importantly, it’s a common ground issue that everyone can stand behind. While helping hardworking Americans today, PHIT would move us toward a healthier, stronger nation for tomorrow.”
The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA and its members are dedicated to making the world healthier through regular exercise.
IHRSA maintains a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to America’s health and the battle against obesity and chronic lifestyle diseases. IHRSA supports policies that promote more active lifestyles to foster a healthier, happier, more prosperous America.
IHRSA’s advocacy team actively engages with Congress, the Administration and allied organizations to promote physical activity and raise awareness of the critical role of health clubs in building a better, stronger, healthier America.