The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) sees great opportunity in a bill introduced today by Congressman Jerry Weller (R-IL). Personal Health Investment Today (HR 5479)-known as PHIT-provides financial incentives for Americans to play sports, workout, and be physically active.
PHIT would change current federal tax law to allow for the use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to exercise, organized sports, and other physical activities. Americans could invest up to $1,000 annually to pay for these activities by placing money in existing pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), and/or medical reimbursement arrangements.
SGMA anticipates long-term benefits from the PHIT bill. “As Americas obesity and overweight problems continue to grow, PHIT is a step in the right direction towards promoting physical activity across the country,” stated Bill Sells, SGMA Director of Government Relations and Chairman of the Public Policy Committee for the National Coalition for the Promotion of Physical Activity (NCPPA). “This legislation could revolutionize our nations attitude about physical fitness and motivate overweight people to take greater personal responsibility for their health by investing in physical activities.”
The SGMA Board of Directors enthusiastically endorses the legislation which will put more emphasis on prevention of obesity-related health issues that result from sedentary lifestyles. “Current pre-tax accounts focus on treatment and detection rather than prevention,” said Bill Sherman, Chairman of SGMAs Government Relations Executive Committee and President of Riddell, Inc. “SGMA recognizes the positive impact of regular exercise and sports participation in preventing costly obesity-related chronic illnesses, and we will work with Congressman Wellers office to promote PHIT as a critical catalyst for prevention. ”
Sherman says SGMA “has made PHIT a legislative priority because we understand the health and economic benefits of reversing the current obesity/overweight trend in America.”
According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 64% of American adults and 34% of American children are overweight or obese. CDC estimates that more than 50% of American adults do not get the recommended amount of regular physical activity.
The CDC projects that by 2015, the nations health care costs will reach $4 trillion-20% of the Gross Domestic Product. SGMA will focus their policy efforts to reduce that burden by developing initiatives that encourage people to be more active.
“Economically, the tax savings established through PHIT could enhance Americans purchasing power for sports and fitness equipment, leagues, and activities by 25-45%,” explained Sells. “This is a great way to motivate Americans to improve their physical condition and reduce their health care needs through sports and fitness activities that work for them.”
SGMA has been a strong advocate of legislation to create more access and opportunity for people to be active. Since 2001, SGMA has worked to secure more than $325 million in federal funding for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, benefiting hundreds of thousands of students across the country. Additionally, SGMA has successfully lobbied for the extension of Daylight Savings Time and funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, helping Americans find more time and space to be physically active.