PHIT Introduced in Congress, Signaling the Fitness Industry Is Being Heard
Posted: March 1, 2017 in IHRSA
BOSTON, MA – PHIT, the fitness industry’s top federal legislative priority, was introduced in Congress. On the national front, IHRSA’s advocacy team has been actively engaging with Congress, the Administration and allied organizations to promote physical activity and advance the interests of health club businesses, which are instrumental in building a healthier and more prosperous America.
As a result of our efforts, the voice of the health club industry is being heard. PHIT (H.R.1267/S.482) was introduced in Congress. In the House of Representatives, PHIT was introduced by Jason Smith (R-MO) and Ron Kind (D-WI) with co-sponsors Mike Kelly (R-PA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Mike Bishop (R-MI), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). In the Senate, the legislation was introduced by the bill’s two original sponsors, Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) with co-sponsors Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
The PHIT Act (H.R.1267/S.482), which stands for Personal Health Investment Today, would expand the definition of a medical expense to include physical activity and allow consumers to use pre-tax accounts like Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) to pay for qualified fitness expenses. Currently, the IRS code only allows these accounts to be used for medical expenses. By allowing HSAs and FSAs to pay for fitness expenses, individuals will be able to set aside up to $1,000 pre-tax dollars, and families will be able to budget $2,000. If passed, the PHIT Act could save individuals and families up to 20 to 30% on their fitness and sports expenses.
For the fitness industry, PHIT provides a tremendous opportunity for doing good while doing well. PHIT is a truly bipartisan initiative with great prospects for improving the overall health of Americans, reducing obesity, and curbing health care costs. At the same time, it could have a very positive impact on the economic strength of the fitness industry, which provides more than 1.4 million U.S. jobs.
For health clubs, PHIT could mean more members joining, current members using more services, and better member retention. For fitness suppliers, it could mean a greater demand for fitness products from clubs and consumers.
“Many hours were spent in meetings with members of Congress and their staff looking for Congressional leaders who could put partisan differences and other political issues aside to say, “We care about the health of this country. We believe being more physically active will move us towards a healthier, economically stronger America, and by making physical activity more affordable, today’s introduction is an important step in that direction.” said Helen Durkin, IHRSA’s EVP of Public Policy.
“At the moment,” Durkin added, “there are two likely paths for PHIT, to become either part of the current healthcare ‘repeal and replace’ process, or to be included as part of the tax reform discussions later this year.”
PHIT’s introduction is simply the first step. Now IHRSA is asking everyone in the fitness industry to get involved to help pass PHIT. To start,
- Download and use the Get PHIT toolkit to educate your staff, your members and your community on how PHIT is good for the fitness industry and good for America.
- Complete a brief survey to let us know how you plan to help pass PHIT.
- Use your club’s social media to #PassPHIT.
- Ask your representatives to co-sign PHIT via IHRSA’s online campaign. It’s easy, IHRSA did the work for you.
- Support IHRSA’s lobbying efforts by contributing to the Industry Leadership Council.
- And for those attending IHRSA 2017, there will be additional opportunities to pass PHIT at the convention.