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March 13, 2019

King Backs Bipartisan Bill to Encourage, Incentivize Physical Activity

Senator Touts Gym Memberships, Fitness Costs in FSAs as a “Win-Win”

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of his colleagues to introduce the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. The PHIT Act would encourage more physical activity in the United States and incentivize healthier living by allowing Americans to use a portion of the money saved in their pre-tax health savings account (HSA) and/or flexible spending account (FSA) toward qualified sports and fitness purchases, like gym memberships, fitness equipment, and youth sports league fees.

“We have a lot of debates in Washington about who will pay for healthcare, but we also need to get to the root of the challenge: reducing America’s healthcare spending,” said Senator King. “As a nation, we spend nearly 18% of our gross domestic product on healthcare costs, well above what other developed nations spend for similar or better health outcomes. The best way to reduce healthcare spending is to take steps to prevent potential medical problems, and that includes encouraging Americans to pursue healthy lifestyles. By making it easier for the American people to participate in physical activity, we can improve our public health and encourage young people to establish healthy habits early in life – a win-win!”

“Kids are sitting on the sidelines because they can’t afford the fee to play sports,” said Tom Cove, president of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. “This is wrong and dooms the U.S. to future generations of an increasingly sedentary population.  Youth activity is the foundation for an active healthy lifestyle.  Cost has become a barrier to youth sports and PHIT will lower that barrier to give more children the opportunity of a healthy life.”  

“At a time where there has been some decline in youth sports participation, the PHIT Act is a bold step in the right direction,” said Wayne B. Moss, executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports. “Passage of the bill will help more young people play.  Research shows that participating in sports leads to physical, social, emotional and cognitive development and puts young people on a path to healthier lifestyles.”

“PHIT would provide millions of Americans the opportunity to get moving,” said Graham Melstrand, executive vice president of the American Council on Exercise. “By significantly reducing the financial barrier to participation by allowing the utilization of Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts for fitness and sports related services and activities, millions of adults and children would have the opportunity to change their behavior and live more healthy, active lives.”

Qualified expenses do not include: private clubs owned and operated by members or clubs with golf, hunting, sailing, or riding facilities. In the case of sports equipment (other than exercise equipment), reimbursement for a single item cannot exceed $250, and these pre-tax dollars cannot be used for general fitness apparel or footwear. 

The PHIT Act is cosponsored by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

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