The PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) legislation is arguably the most important legislation to affect our industry — ever. Why? Because PHIT would allow Americans to use pre-tax dollars from their HSA and FSA accounts to pay for fitness and physical activity expenses. This would effectively save consumers 20 to 30 percent on their gym memberships, as well as recreational activities such as race fees, youth sport leagues, dance classes, yoga, personal training and more.
This bill has been floating around Washington DC for the past 10 years and is finally poised to pass into law if we continue gaining co-sponsors and find a bill for it to become attached to for passage.
The PHIT bill has been introduced several times in both the House and the Senate. In the House it is Bill # H.R. 1267, sponsored by Representative Jason Smith (R-MO-8) and co-sponsored by Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3) with a total of 104 co-sponsors. In the Senate it is Bill # S.482, introduced by Senator John Thune (R-SD) with 12 co-sponsors. Altogether the bill has 118 sponsors in Congress, which is the most it has ever had in the history of the bill. Given that strong showing and the fact the bill has strong bi-artisan support, it has the potential to pass into law this year.
Notice I said, “Potential to Pass.” Nothing will happen if we, as club operators, don’t step up to help it pass.
At this point, the PHIT bill or language contained therein, could be included in other moving pieces of legislation. One such type of legislation is the upcoming omnibus spending bill. This bill covers a wide range of spending allowances for the federal government and could easily contain PHIT language.
The government relations team at IHRSA, under the direction of Helen Durkin, has been working diligently on furthering this bill along with members of the IHRSA Board and key club operators throughout the nation. Jim Worthington, the Vice – Chair IHRSA Board of Directors and owner of Newtown Athletic Club, has taken on a leadership role by devoting resources and time to communicating within the industry as well as with contacts in Washington DC. The members of the IHRSA ILC (Industry Leadership Council) have also been recruited to support this effort.
As much as IHRSA and other PHIT coalition members do for this effort, they lack the power that club operators have as constituents to engage their members of Congress. To make this happen it is imperative that we, as club owners, operators and staff reach out today to our members of Congress and let them know we want them to do two things 1) become a co-sponsor of the PHIT bill and 2) include PHIT language in any omnibus spending bill.
IHRSA has provided us an easy way to reach out to our members of Congress online. Simply go to the link provided and login to send a letter to your members of Congress. Feel free to edit the letter any way you wish.
Take it a step further….
Pick up the phone and dial the office of your congressman and speak to a staffer about the issue.
Now that you know about PHIT, please share this information with others and make it your mission to do your part to make this bill “happen.” No matter the size of your company, you will benefit from the bill, your members will save money and you will help make the country healthier, saving our government billions of dollars in healthcare expenditures.
Watch Club Solutions for my regular updates on PHIT and feel free to reach out to me, Linda Mitchell, at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-968-0600 x 114.
Linda Mitchell is the director of public and government relations at Newtown Athletic Club.