U.S. Congress Moving on Health Care Reform

PHIT Act Will Cut Medical Costs & Reduce Illness Through Physical Activity Contact Congress To Get PHIT Act Included in Reform Bill
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 30, 2009 – Now that Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) has introduced the Personal Health Investment Today Act of 2009 (PHIT) in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congress needs to hear loudly (and often) that PHIT is important to lowering health care costs. PHIT enjoys bi-partisan support from key members of Congress, but there are many approaches under consideration and those that they hear about the most will have the best prospects.

“Consumers are a powerful and effective voice, if they engage in delivering the message to Congress,” said SGMA President Tom Cove. “They also stand to benefit most directly from the physical activity tax incentives which PHIT provides.”

It is imperative that the general public send letters, faxes, and emails to their representatives in Washington, D.C. (i.e. local member of the House and each state’s two U.S. Senators) expressing their support for the PHIT Act. For background information about PHIT, go to www.getphit.sgma.com. If you want to send a letter to your local congressmen in support of PHIT, Click Here. Since January of this year, more than 300 letters to support PHIT have been sent to various members of the U.S. Congress.

Those members of the House of Representatives who have agreed to be co-sponsors of PHIT include Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA), Rep. Christopher Carney (D-PA), Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA), Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), and Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL).

The PHIT Act (HR 2105) would allow consumers to be reimbursed with pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities. If included in health care reform, Americans could place up to $2,000 annually in existing pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) and/or medical reimbursement arrangements to pay for physical activities as a form of prevention. Taxpayers spending 7.5% of their income on qualified medical expenses could deduct physical activity expenses directly.

“SGMA has been supporting this bill in recent years and we are very pleased to have Representative Ron Kind leading the effort on PHIT,” said Bill Sells, SGMA’s vice president of government relations. “PHIT is win-win legislation that encourages investment in physical activity to reduce medical spending which will lower future health care outlays. Consumers benefit from the reduction of expenses associated with exercise, fitness and sports participation, including fees and equipment purchases, through the use of funds in pre-tax accounts. PHIT provides residual benefits to the economy including increased productivity from lower absenteeism at school and in the workplace. PHIT has the potential to make a big difference in people’s lives, the economy and health care spending.”

“Regular physical activity is the best preventive medicine we can prescribe,” said Kind, a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. “This bill will give people the incentive they need to get active – to participate in an exercise class, join an intramural sports team, or sign up for a gym membership.”

Health care reform is a top priority in Washington, D.C. and PHIT is consistent with reducing health care costs which is a primary objective of reform efforts.

One of the main reasons PHIT is getting attention on Capitol Hill is due to the Congressional support generated by physical activity advocates on March 3rd during SGMA’s National Health Through Fitness (NHTF) Day. On NHTF Day, a delegation of well known athletes, sporting goods/fitness manufacturers, sports retailers, concerned citizens, physical educators and association leaders met with Members of the U.S. House and Senate to encourage passage of two legislative initiatives that will help Americans (of all ages) become more physically active and healthy. In addition to PHIT, the sports industry also promoted higher funding for quality physical education through the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP). PEP provides grants to school districts and community based organizations for innovative physical education and activity methods. Since 2001, PEP has provided close to $600 million for equipment purchases and P.E. training.

“Both pieces of legislation are important,” said Sells. “PEP provides support to school-age children and PHIT provides financial incentives for all Americans to lead more active and healthy lives.”

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by promoting favorable public policies, fostering participation through research, thought leadership and product promotion. More information about SGMA membership, SGMA public policy platform, and SGMA's National Health Through Fitness Day can be found at www.SGMA.com

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