Over 100 sports and fitness industry leaders will team with recognized athletes in Washington D.C. on Mar. 5 for SFIA’s National Health Through Fitness Day. The group will urge Congress to pass major legislation that would “Get America Moving”. The association’s annual lobby day will focus on the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act and the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), both of which are imperative to improving the health of the country while reducing future medical spending.
A current list of athletes and their sponsoring company scheduled to attend SFIA’s National Health Through Fitness Day include football great Herschel Walker (Franklin Sports), current Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin (GoodSports), softball legend Jennie Finch (Mizuno USA), Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones (Speedo USA), baseball All-Star Tommy John (Franklin Sports), UFC champion Benson Henderson (Everlast), three-time track and field All-American Brenda Martinez (New Balance), Olympic Silver Medalist Peter Hudnut (USA Water Polo), former NFL star John Booty (SFIA), and four time NFL Pro-Bowler Ken Harvey (Electronic Transactions Systems).
“Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much when it involves healthcare and taxes,” said Bill Sells, SFIA Vice President of Government and Public Affairs. “PHIT is one tax-related health care bill that both sides of the aisle agree on. The bipartisan support PHIT and PEP have received is proof that our nation’s leaders understand the importance of physical activity as preventive healthcare.”
The PHIT legislation would change the IRS definition of a “medical expense” to include physical activity as a form of prevention. Expanding the definition would make physical activity expenses reimbursable using pre-tax dollars in Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts and would allow consumers to deduct physical activity costs. Recently, Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH) signed on as the 31st co-sponsor of H.R. 956 “The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act”, giving the legislation the most co-sponsors ever. Even more significant is the balanced support for PHIT, with 17 Democrat and 14 Republican co-sponsors.
PEP Grants are multi-year grants for PE equipment purchases and teacher training tied to innovative physical education methods. This highly competitive grant program (less than 10 percent of applicants win awards) is managed by the Department of Education and is the only Federal funding dedicated to physical education. In 2014, Congress provided $74.5 million for the Department of Education to distribute via PEP grants. To date, PEP Grant recipients have received close to $800 million in funding.
“Both PHIT and PEP are major legislative items that everyone in the sports and fitness industry should be rallying around,” said Sells. “An event like this wouldn’t be possible without the help of PHIT America, our corporate partners, our Friends of National Health Through Fitness Day, and our SFIA members who are bring recognized athletes to Capitol Hill.”
Click here to learn more about SFIA’s National Health Through Fitness Day.