The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act is a bill that would allow the use of tax-free health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to be used on qualified activities such as gym memberships and youth sports.
Here, Kevin McHugh, the COO of The Atlantic Club and a member of the National Health & Fitness Alliance (NHFA) Advisory Council, shares an update on where the bill stands, why it’s important for the fitness industry and how fitness professionals can support its passage.
What is the latest on the PHIT Act?
The latest on the PHIT ACT is that it is gaining momentum in both the U.S. House and Senate. What is most exciting news behind PHIT is that it’s receiving bi-partisan support at very high levels. It’s currently cosponsored by 35 republicans and 35 democrats In the House of Representatives, and 12 republicans, four democrats and one independent in the Senate.
It is currently being sponsored in the House by Representative Ron Kind, a democrat from Wisconsin, and in the Senate by Senator John Thune, a republican from South Dakota.
Liz Clark, the CEO of IHRSA, has been working tirelessly with the PHIT Coalition, our excellent lobbyists in Washington D.C., as well as the NHFA leadership to be leading this all-important effort that not only will impact the fitness industry, but also youth sports and other important major preventative disease programs and activities.
What lobbying efforts are supporting its passage?
Currently, the NHFA and the IHRSA D.C. lobbying team are working with other groups such as youth sports and the sporting goods industry to bring awareness of the PHIT ACT to all of our legislators. It’s a true multi-focused advocacy team effort that also includes major equipment manufacturers such as Nike.
Later this September, the NHFA will be sending a professional presentation that will be customized to each congressional district and Senate office leadership group to all TEAM 435 members and the newly formed Senate Leadership Group. This presentation will provide one message on PHIT to all our congresspersons and Senators, where we will be asking for their support. It will also be followed up with a phone call to each assigned member on the TEAM 435 and Senate Leadership Group roster.
Perhaps one of the best fitness advocacy outcomes in September will be the number of fitness professionals who will be fully educated on the PHIT ACT and their ability to send out the one PHIT message that will be going to each of their assigned legislators, not only asking for their support but also educating the congressional and Senate staffs why PHIT is so important for the health and wellness of the nation and their communities.
What should the fitness industry know about the importance of the PHIT Act?
The importance of PHIT is that it has the potential to provide the opportunity for individuals who have FSAs or HSAs to be able to use these funds with expanded approved usages. This expansion would now include the reimbursement within youth sports for leagues and fees associated with the individual child’s participation, as well as needed equipment, expenses associated with preventive and chronic disease management programs and activities, reimbursements for health club memberships, and several other health and fitness related areas.
How can fitness operators support the PHIT Act’s passage?
Fitness operators from all sectors of the industry are invited to get involved by working with the NHFA. If you would like to become more involved with the passage of PHIT, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com. You will be connected with local NHFA chapters that are already in action in forwarding the message and importance of the PHIT ACT and fitness across the nation in Team 435.
What else would you like to share?
The importance in all of our efforts with the NHFA’s Team 435 and the Senate Leadership Group is to begin to build strong fitness relationships with every congressional and Senate office. It’s important our industry fully understand there is the potential that PHIT may be able to get included within a few legislative bills that may still get passed by the current administration before the end of this session. One key possibility we need to be prepared for in the next couple of months and will need additional co-sponsors in the House and Senate is the potential passage of a Mental Health Bill where the PHIT Act has the potential of strengthening this legislation in the next few months.
However, if PHIT does not get included in this year’s end of session, our Team 435 and Senate Leadership Group will restart its efforts so that PHIT can become a reality in the next session of Congress.
Lastly, the PHIT Act is an excellent piece of legislation the NHFA will continue to prioritize as well as building other new pieces of legislation that will not only build a stronger fitness industry, but most importantly a stronger and healthier nation.