In response to the economic damage, caused by COVID-19 on the active lifestyle industry, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) will launch a campaign to promote the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R.1679/S.680) as consumer-driven economic stimulus.
SFIA said it joins its active lifestyle partners in the youth sports, health & fitness and outdoor recreation arenas in pushing for the inclusion of PHIT in the next COVID-19 relief package. The campaign will include three components: outreach to congress by SFIA members and others, a social media campaign around #PassPHIT4 and a virtual advocacy day on July 22, 2020 hosting virtual meetings with congress.
SFIA wrote in a statement, “Youth sports, health clubs, fitness studios and much of outdoor recreation were early casualties of the economic shutdown and stay-at-home orders. Under the circumstances, many of these businesses and organizations are struggling to survive in an ever-changing COVID landscape. Ironically, the active population has far better prognoses and are at lower risk of experiencing the more severe symptoms of COVID-19 than the inactive population. With the additional strain COVID-19 has placed on our healthcare system, it is critical to promote health and physical activity; and without the active lifestyle industry, the American population will suffer.
“PHIT would incentivize health by providing a 12 to 35 percent discount on physical activity expenditures through the use of pre-tax medical accounts. Youth sports costs, health club dues, outdoor recreation fees, sports and fitness equipment, and other expenses directly related to active lifestyles would be eligible for payment using an HSA or FSA. Currently, HSA/FSA account holders can pay for treatment of disease with their pre-tax money, but not for prevention via physical activity. PHIT is widely bipartisan, with more than 100 supporters in congress, split evenly along party lines.
“Similar to the hospitality industry, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) does not help the active lifestyle industry, due to the payroll requirements for loan forgiveness. The industry relies on seasonal employees and part-time help to run leagues, tournaments, outdoor adventure expeditions, fitness classes, competitions and other forms of physical activity and recreation. Encouraging investment in these industries will help sustain them in short term and provide a platform for a healthier America moving forward.
“The youth sports industry is promoting “The COVID-19 Youth Sports and Family Relief Act” (H.R.7562) to address the PPP problem using participation rates for forgiveness. The bill includes the PHIT Act to help families with youth sports costs as the country emerges from COVID. Youth sports is the foundation for active lifestyles and crucial to the future health in America.”
SFIA said it is coordinating with youth sports and other active lifestyle industries on a social media campaign during July as part of the PHIT advocacy effort. More information is available here.