Health and Fitness Industry Gets Moving on Capitol Hill to Champion Legislation Encouraging Exercise

6th Annual IHRSA Summit Pumps Prevention to Curb Weighty Health Care Costs
With health care costs directly associated with inactivity weighing in at
more than $76 billion annually, the health and fitness industry is tackling
the problem by championing legislation to support Americans' efforts to get
active and stay well.  Industry leaders will get moving on Capitol Hill on
May 21 and 22 during the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub
Association's (IHRSA) 6th Annual Summit.   
 
"The much-maligned increase in America's waistline has come at a high a
price," says Joe Moore, IHRSA President and CEO.  "Not only does it
compromise the health of individuals, but it increases the nation's health
care costs and lowers our overall productivity.  The government can play a
life-saving role by passing legislation that supports Americans' own
personal efforts to preserve their health."
 
Leaders from the health and fitness industry will be talking to legislators
about two exercise-championing bills, in particular, that are currently
making their way around Congress:
 
*  The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Bill (H.R. 245) would
allow people to pay for exercise and physical fitness programs, certain
exercise equipment, and children's sports league fees with pre-tax dollars
through their Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Medical Savings Account
(MSA), or Health Savings Account (HSA).  That means Americans could save 25
to 30 percent a year on their fitness-related costs because they wouldn't be
paid for with taxable income. 
 
*  The Workforce Health Improvement Program (WHIP) Act (H.R. 1748 and
S. 1038) promotes wellness in the workforce by balancing current law and
allowing for off-site fitness center memberships as a tax-free benefit for
employees. Current law allows employees to use on-site fitness facilities
free of any tax implications, but when a business needs to outsource this
health benefit, employees who receive off-site fitness center subsidies are
required to pay income tax on the benefits.  And their employers bear the
associated administrative costs of complying with IRS rules.  The WHIP Act
eliminates this tax on off-site fitness center subsidies, making it easier
for all employers to offer important exercise incentives for their workers.
 
WHAT:  International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association
(IHRSA)
6th Annual Legislative Summit
 
WHO:   Among the featured speakers are:
 
*         Joe Moore, President and CEO, IHRSA
*         Helen Durkin, Executive Vice President of Public Policy, IHRSA
*         Jay Sweeney, IHRSA Lobbyist
*         Tony Snow, Former White House Press Secretary
*         James Carville, Media Personality and Political Icon and
Consultant
 
WHEN:  Wednesday, May 21 through Thursday, May 22, 2008
 
Featured Panel Discussion:  Working Together for a Healthy
America Wednesday, May 21 | 4:00pm-5:30pm
 
As the nation moves toward greater acceptance of prevention, partnerships
are becoming powerful forces in the battle against obesity and inactivity.
This panel will feature experts from the healthcare industry, private
business, and government initiatives.  A full discussion will follow and
include an insightful exchange of ideas between fitness professionals and
the panel. 
 
See http://cms.ihrsa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage
for a detailed schedule.
           
WHERE:  The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC
                   1150 22nd Street, N.W.
                   Washington, D.C. 20037
                       
CONTACT:  Rosemary Lavery, IHRSA,
                       (617) 951-0055
                       pr[at]ihrsa.org
 
Seven in ten Americans say they'd encourage their Member of Congress to pass
PHIT, and three-quarters of Americans say they'd encourage WHIP.  Concerned
Americans can exercise their rights and encourage Members of Congress to
pass PHIT and WHIP by visiting www.healthclubs.com and clicking on "Take
Action!" under "Exercise Your Rights!"
 
IHRSA also supports the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Bill (H.R.
245), which takes a giant step toward a healthier America.  This legislation
will allow for exercise and physical fitness programs and certain exercise
equipment to be paid for out of pre-tax dollars by including them in tax
deferred medical savings vehicles-such as flexible spending accounts (FSA)
and health savings accounts (HSA).  IHRSA believes that PHIT will help
provide the level of support many Americans need to be able to adopt
healthier lifestyles and become more physically active.
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