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If Passed, the PHIT Act Will Mean Big Savings for Participants

8 Aug, 2018

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Event Owners will be one of many groups to see benefits

The campaign to get a sedentary U.S. population active just got a huge shot in the arm. Even better news: it can benefit event owners and rights holders.

But if the sports event planning industry wants to capitalize on it, the time is here. And now. And slipping away quickly.

The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act will, if signed into law, allow Americans to use Pre-Tax Medical Accounts to pay for physical activity expenses. And – take note, everyone – those expenses absolutely would include registration costs for sports events.

The PHIT Act is a bipartisan measure that “would cover fees associated with triathlons, marathons, CrossFit competitions, Tough Mudders, etc., in addition to any tournament fees for sports, youth or adult,” says Bill Sells, senior vice president for government and public affairs for the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), which has been spearheading the measure.

PHIT would allow taxpayers to place up to $2,000 a year in existing Pre-Tax medical accounts for reimbursement of physical activity expenses – a proactive strike toward good health. Currently, Pre-Tax medical accounts are primarily used for reimbursement of medical expenses once an individual becomes sick. In other words, they’ve been used reactively. And according to the Centers for Disease Control$117 billion in annual health care costs are associated with inadequate physical activity.

The activities eligible for Pre-Tax reimbursement under the PHIT Act include:

  • Youth & Adult Sports League Fees

  • Health Club Membership Dues

  • Exercise Classes & Personal Trainers

  • Sports & Fitness Equipment (used exclusively for participation in physical activities)

  • Youth Camps

  • Pay-to-Play School Sports Fees

  • Organized Running Event Registration Fees

  • Martial Arts, Gymnastics & other Physical Activities

… in other words, it would provide an added incentive to potential athletes, and would benefit event owners and rights holders. And the NGB of that organization agrees.

"We stand behind the initiative and it will be a part of our national advocacy efforts going forward," noted Al Kidd, executive Director of the National Association of Sports Commissions.

The House of Representatives recently passed the measure by a 277-142 margin. It now moves to the Senate. Sells says it’s time for members of the industry to step up to the plate and help move the PHIT Act through its next hurdle.

 

The measure was originally introduced in 2006 (!), but Sells says, “it has been getting stuck in repeal and replace purgatory. We kept building support to keep it bipartisan. They finally have moved past that (well, most have) and only health care options are b-partisan, or they won’t get through the Senate. We need to engage consumers to put pressure on Senate to pass by the end of the year…or we start all over again in January.”

Event owners and rights holders can include information on PHIT when communicating with their athletes and families (as a bipartisan piece of legislation, it can’t press any hot buttons) and include links to PHIT’s website, with a call to action, at this link.

The good news: It’s easy to contact senators and urge them to pass PHIT because there are various Internet lookups to learn about elected officials. One is here and allows the user to go to the appropriate senator’s website and shoot a quick e-mail or make a call, urging passage of the PHIT Act.

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