WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), along with Congressmen Mike Kelly (PA-16), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Darrin LaHood (IL-16), Brendan Boyle (PA-02) and Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07), introduced the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation encourages physical activity and incentivizes healthier living by allowing Americans to use a portion of the money saved in their pre-tax health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) toward qualified sports and fitness purchases, including gym memberships, fitness equipment, and youth sports league fees. Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced a companion bill in the United States Senate.
Under this legislation, money saved in a pre-tax health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) can be used toward qualified sports and fitness purchases, such as gym memberships, fitness equipment, and youth sports league fees. Qualified expenses do not include: private clubs owned and operated by members or clubs with golf, hunting, sailing, or riding facilities. In the case of sports equipment (other than exercise equipment), reimbursement for a single item cannot exceed $250, and these pre-tax dollars cannot be used for general fitness apparel or footwear.
- This bill allows a medical care tax deduction for up to $1,000 ($2,000 for a joint return or a head of household) of qualified sports and fitness expenses per year.
- The bill defines qualified sports and fitness expenses as amounts paid exclusively for participating in a physical activity, including (1) fitness facility memberships, (2) physical exercise or activity programs, or (3) equipment for a physical exercise or activity program.
- Currently, over 96 million Americans have access to health benefit accounts. Yet, the accounts do not recognize exercise as a form of preventative health care.
- Medical experts agree that financial barriers such as school “pay-to-play” costs, fitness center dues, outdoor recreation fees and other expenses, serve as a hinderance to physical activity. The PHIT Act removes these barriers by allowing a portion of such funds to be used for qualified physical activity expenses – a much needed update to encouraging and improving mental and physical health.
“Encouraging physical activity is so important to promoting a healthier lifestyle and is one of the most cost-effective forms of preventative health care,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will empower families to stay active through youth sports, fitness programs, and outdoor recreation while investing in their long-term health.”
“As a former college football player and youth football coach myself, I've seen young Americans greatly improve their lives because they were able to join a team and play sports,” said Congressman Kelly. “This bill gives kids, especially those in underserved or low-income communities, a real chance to play the sport of their choice. This isn't just about athletics: it's about gaining critical team-building and character-building traits that stay with kids for the rest of their lives. I thank the National Football League, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball for supporting our efforts.”
“With families tightening their belts, gyms, youth sports leagues, and other exercise classes have become less and less affordable and accessible,” said Congressman Panetta. “I’m proud to reintroduce the PHIT Act alongside Rep. Kelly and Sens. Thune and Murphy to provide financial incentives for families to really invest in physical activity for their kids and themselves. An active lifestyle is the best preventative medicine, and by encouraging these habits we can promote healthier communities.”
“As a dad to three boys, I know the importance of physical activity and exercise for the health of our children and all Americans,” said Congressman LaHood. “Allowing the use of tax-favored health investment accounts to pay for things that support youth activity and physical health is a common sense approach to incentivizing exercise and lowering the cost to do so. This bipartisan bill will not only help provide the opportunity for better health outcomes, but it will also reduce costs to our healthcare system in the long run.”
"The logic is simple - engaging in physical fitness makes us all healthier, which brings down health care costs”, said Congressman Boyle. “This bipartisan, bicameral legislation will help many families participate in fitness while saving money in the process. I’m proud to support this legislation with my colleagues that will improve health and wellbeing for my constituents and families across the country."
“Physical activity is key to preventing numerous diseases and fostering healthier lives and communities,” said Congressman Sewell. “We in Congress must do what we can do ensure that America’s families are empowered with the tools they need to live healthy and active lifestyles. That’s why I’m proud to be co-leading this bipartisan legislation to make it easier for Americans to afford things like gym memberships and fitness equipment and participate in youth sports.”
“As a lifelong athlete and fitness enthusiast, I understand the value of and feel grateful to have access to gyms and fitness equipment,” said Sen. Thune. “For some Americans, though, certain gym or athletic league membership costs can be prohibitive, keeping them from pursuing healthy habits like exercising or participating in other physical activities. By giving Americans greater flexibility with their HSAs and FSAs, we can empower people to make healthy choices, get active, and hopefully avoid the onset of costly chronic conditions.”
“Joining a local gym or signing your kids up for little league are great ways for families to get healthy and connect with their community, but those fees can be really expensive. This bipartisan legislation would allow people to use their flexible spending accounts to cover those expenses. It’s a smart investment that would help more Americans prioritize their health, lead active lives, and connect with others,” said Sen. Murphy.
The bill has already received several major endorsements, including the National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), National Basketball Association (NBA), and Major League Baseball (MLB).
“The National Football League (NFL) is pleased to support the PHIT Act, which is sensible, bipartisan legislation that makes participation in youth sports and physical activity more accessible and affordable for more Americans,” said Brendon Plack, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs at the NFL. “Encouraging youth to adopt active lifestyles and healthy habits has been a cornerstone of the league’s commitment to community, and the PHIT Act helps to further advance that important goal. We look forward to working with the bill’s sponsors in Congress, as well as other stakeholders in the sports community to move the bill across the goal line. Enacting the PHIT Act into law will mark a victory in the ongoing effort to promote and support healthy and active families across the country.”
“At the National Hockey League (NHL), we believe that hockey is for everyone, and that’s why we support efforts in Congress to advance the PHIT Act, which would help make sports more affordable for all who have a passion and love for the game, regardless of socio-economic status,” said Kim Davis, senior executive and vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs at the NHL. “Data consistently shows that participating in youth sports can lead to immediate and long-term physical, mental and economic benefits for players, their families and their communities. The PHIT Act would directly help countless American families access these invaluable sports opportunities.”
"The Health & Fitness industry seeks to make physical activity accessible for everyone so they may experience the unmistakable benefits on mental and physical health. Staying active is the preventative key to better health and passing the PHIT Act will enable Americans to have affordable access to the physical activity options that are right for them," said Liz Clark, President & CEO of IHRSA - The Health & Fitness Association. "We thank Reps. Kelly, Panetta, Fitzpatrick, Sewell, LaHood, and Boyle, and Sens. Murphy, Thune, Cramer, Tillis, Marshall, Capito, Wicker, T. Scott, Baldwin, Sinema, King for their leadership."
“Every child deserves the right to be healthy,” said Wayne B. Moss, executive director of the National Council of Youth Sports. “Youth sports is a fun pathway to healthy lifestyles and leads to positive physical, social and emotional outcomes. Sports also serves as a protective factor for risky behavior. The PHIT Act will reduce participation barriers and allow more young people to participate. This bipartisan legislation will help mitigate the physical and mental health challenges created by COVID-19.”