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Congress wants more Americans to get PHIT

SGMA’s promotion of tax incentives to encourage increased physical activity in America has been well received in Congress. SGMA is pleased that there is little opposition to the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT) in concept; however there are some reservations about the audience PHIT would serve if passed as written. The current legislation would allow individuals to dedicate up to $1,000 annually from existing pre-tax medical accounts to pay for physical activities and related expenses. The new majority in Congress wants to ensure all Americans enjoy the tax benefits proposed by PHIT, not just those who have access to pre-tax medical accounts.

The proposed solution to the Democratic concerns is to allow money spent on physical activities and related expenses a tax deduction or refundable tax credit for the working poor who are exempt from taxes. The net result would be an all inclusive PHIT where every American would receive a tax incentive to get physically active. Another possible alternative is to model PHIT after individual IRAs, where money contributed to a PHIT account could be used to reimburse consumers for physical activity expenses using pre-tax dollars. The individual PHIT accounts would not be subject to the same penalties as IRAs and the funds would most likely not carry over from year to year.

To build additional momentum for PHIT, SGMA reached out to a broad spectrum of organizations in Washington who are actively promoting prevention as a solution to our nation’s obesity crisis and related increases in healthcare costs. The outreach efforts have led to interest from groups representing health care, insurance, pharmaceutical and chronic disease prevention. The PHIT movement is growing as Fitness Magazine has over 4,000 signatures on its on-line petition asking Congress for support. PHIT was discussed as a solution to sedentary lifestyles during a recent National Summit on Obesity. SGMA is working with the Partnership to Prevent Chronic Disease to raise the awareness of PHIT and using tax incentives to improve health in America during the 2008 elections.

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