Washington, D.C. – Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL) joined Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Mike Kelly (R-PA), and Terri Sewell (D-AL) to introduce the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act, which will help Americans return to physical activity and lead healthier lives.
The PHIT Act would help incentivize physical activity by updating the types of expenditures that could be payable out of tax-favored health investment accounts, such as flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). The PHIT Act would provide additional flexibility in these accounts to promote proactive prevention of disease through allowable physical activity expenses, aside from the already included diagnosis and treatment costs allowed through an FSA or HSA.
By enacting the PHIT Act, Americans could use pre-tax dollars to pay children’s youth sports costs, fitness center dues, outdoor recreation fees, and other qualified activity expenses to help reduce costs and incentivize exercise.
“Physical activity and exercise are vital to the health of our children and all Americans,” said Rep. LaHood. “Allowing the use of tax-favored health investment accounts to pay for things like fitness center dues, children’s sports fees, or exercise equipment is a common-sense approach to incentivizing exercise and lowering the cost to do so. We must continue to provide flexibility and choice in how we pay for healthcare. This bipartisan bill will not only help provide the opportunity for better health outcomes, but it will also reduce costs to our healthcare system in the long run.”
“Staying active is the best preventative medicine, and it’s especially important for kids and teens as they build healthy habits,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “Unfortunately, for many families, cost can be a barrier to participating in physical activities and youth sports. The PHIT Act is a commonsense way to invest in a healthy future for our children by making it more affordable for families to ensure physical activity is a regular part of their lives.”
“Physical fitness for America’s children is one of the best ways to build a healthy lifestyle and prevent future health expenses. 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,” said Rep. Mike Kelly.
“As our Nation Builds Back Better from the COVID-19 public health crisis and subsequent economic crisis, it is critically important that we continue to invest in the health and well-being of Alabamians and all Americans,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “The PHIT Act would work to remove financial barriers to physical activity by changing the types of expenditures that could be payable out of tax-favored health investment accounts, reducing the incidence of costly and preventable chronic diseases that are driving up our health care spending.”
More than half of American adults did not get enough physical activity to realize the health benefits before the pandemic and 25 percent of adults were completely sedentary during their leisure time. Even worse, more than a third of young people in grades 9 – 12 do not regularly engage in high-intensity physical activity and children’s interest in youth sports has declined 50 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The PHIT Act will provide increased consumer choice for healthcare spending, help Americans to engage in healthy behavior, better recover from the long-term impacts of COVID-19, and foster healthier lifestyles post-pandemic.
“Now more than ever, particularly as the country begins to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, we need to do more to reduce barriers to play and improve the opportunity for all kids to get in the game,” said Kim Davis, senior executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs of the NHL. “The PHIT Act will help families get back on the ice after more than year of navigating uncertainty, and we commend Reps. Darin LaHood, Ron Kind, Mike Kelly, and Terri Sewell for leading this important effort to encourage fitness and access to sport.”
“A great many local Pop Warner organizations, run by volunteers, operate on a break-even budget. At a time when more young people need physical activity and more interactions with their friends to limit the mental and physical health fallout from COVID, youth sports are more vital than ever but many leagues are broke due to cancellation of sports. With parents suffering financial hardship from the pandemic, the PHIT Act will allow more parents to register their children in youth sports. There is tremendous pent-up demand for youth sports - children who’ve been attending school remotely want to get out, run around and play with their friends, and the PHIT Act will help make that happen,” said Jon Butler, President of Pop Warner Little Scholars.
Full text of the legislation can be read here.