The PHIT Act on July 25 passed through the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Restoring Access to Medication Act of 2018 (H.R. 6199), a broader package on heath savings accounts (HSAs). PHIT's successful vote of 277 to 142 marks the first time the decade-old legislation has passed the entire House.
“We knew that there would be increased opportunities to advance this legislation in the 115th Congress, and we are thrilled to celebrate this significant victory,” Helen Durkin, IHRSA's executive vice president of public policy, said in a media release. “While our work on PHIT is not finished, we’d like to take today to thank every individual and organization that has supported healthy lifestyles by speaking up in favor of the benefits that PHIT would provide to our citizens and our nation. Your passion for and commitment to helping others lead active, healthy lives has brought us to this historic moment.”
This version of the PHIT Act, as a provision in H.R. 6199, would allow Americans to utilize tax-free HSA and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to pay for select fitness expenses, such as health club memberships, youth sports fees and sports safety equipment. This would cover $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families.
The legislation will now advance to the U.S. Senate, where it could be considered as soon as November 2018, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA).
“Today’s vote to pass the PHIT Act in the House of Representatives is a huge step forward,” SFIA President and CEO Tom Cove said in a media release. “SFIA and the PHIT Coalition have worked tirelessly to educate members of Congress on this innovative approach to promoting sports and fitness to improve health. Though we have a lot of work to do before the bill becomes law, we are very happy with this progress, and grateful to our congressional champions for their leadership.”
The PHIT Act has 136 bipartisan sponsors in the House—71 Democrats and 65 Republicans—having been introduced by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) in March 2017. It currently has 17 sponsors in the Senate, including six Democrats and 11 Republicans.