House and Senate introduce legislation to make activity more affordable, encouraging more Americans to participate
WASHINGTON, DC (March 12, 2019) – The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) applauds congressional efforts to reintroduce the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. On Wednesday, March 6, PHIT Act lead sponsors, Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), reintroduced the bill in the Senate (S.680); and on Tuesday, March 12, PHIT lead sponsors, Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) and Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) reintroduced the bill in the House (H.R. 1679).
The PHIT Act would allow Americans to use pre-tax medical accounts to cover all physical activity-related expenses, such as gym memberships, youth league registration fees, race entry fees, personal trainers and equipment expenses exclusively intended for the sole purpose of being physically active. With healthcare costs increasing, chronic disease affecting a majority of the country and inactivity among lower-income households growing, it is vital to decrease the financial barrier that stands between Americans and the ability to lead an active lifestyle.
“Investing in preventive health is one way Congress can help incentivize America to be a healthier nation,” said Thune. “For some Americans, certain gym or athletic league membership costs can be prohibitive, keeping them from pursuing healthy habits, like exercising or participating in other physical activities. By giving Americans greater flexibility with their HSAs and FSAs, we can help people make healthy choices, get active, and hopefully avoid the onset of costly chronic conditions.”
“I’m proud to reintroduce the PHIT Act with Senator Thune. Our bill is a great first step to encouraging Americans to lead healthier, more active lives,” said Murphy. “The PHIT Act would allow folks to use their own flexible spending accounts to cover physical activity expenses like gym memberships, little league and youth sports, and other fitness related equipment. This will help drive down healthcare costs and reverse the trend of obesity, diabetes and other chronic preventable diseases.”
“Physical fitness for America’s children is one of the best ways to build a healthy lifestyle and prevent future health expenses,” stated Kelly. “It makes sense to let Americans use pre-tax medical accounts for this purpose. Not only will this change make it more affordable for parents to put their kinds into youth sports programs, it’s also a crucial investment in our future collective health. We should encourage healthy choices, and the PHIT Act will do just that.”
“Senators Thune and Murphy and Representatives Kind and Kelly deserve a lot of credit,” stated SFIA President and CEO, Tom Cove. “They are true champions in the cause to promote activity and health for all Americans, and their leadership will be critical to getting the PHIT Act signed into law. We’re grateful to have their commitment, and the sports and fitness industry intends to advocate as hard as we can for passage in 2019.”
On July 24, 2018, the PHIT Act was part of a package that passed the House of Representatives by a two-to-one margin with strong bipartisan support. Unfortunately, PHIT did not receive a vote in the Senate before the year-end government shutdown. In the new Congress, SFIA is hopeful that the 287 current members who have supported PHIT previously will carry the positive momentum from 2018 into 2019, and pass the PHIT Act to help Americans lead healthier lives.
On March 13, during SFIA’s National Health Through Fitness Day, physical activity advocates will meet with Congress to promote the PHIT Act. SFIA will be joined by our partner, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), celebrity athletes, sports and fitness industry executives, and physical activity enthusiasts to discuss the PHIT Act and the far-reaching benefits of a physically active lifestyle with members of Congress.
To learn more about the PHIT Act and SFIA’s National Health Through Fitness Day, click here.
ABOUT SFIA: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation, as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs and member services. For more information, please visit www.sfia.org.