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Bill proposes pre-tax account for gym, sports fees, equipment

As talk of health care reform heats up Washington, one health-related tax bill in Congress could reduce health care expenses for employers and employees.

As talk of health care reform heats up Washington, one health-related tax bill in Congress could reduce health care expenses for employers and employees.

If the Personal Health Investment Today Act were to become law, the costs of youth and adult sports organization fees, gym memberships, race registrations and even ice skates could be absorbed by pre-tax medical accounts by up to $2,000.

Proponents of the act say it would provide an incentive for people to stay active to prevent health care costs related to inactivity and chronic, long-term diseases.

It’s a bill that’s been in the works for about a decade and is expected to be reintroduced to Congress by the start of next month, said Bill Sells, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs for The Sports and Fitness Industry Association, a Maryland-based organization that supports the bill.

“The reason we are optimistic this year is because of the agenda … health care and taxes,” Sells said, referring to President Trump and the new administration which is seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

It’s a tax bill that provides a tax incentive to encourage people to be more active, and has been around long before the ACA and has no ties to the ACA repeal effort, Sells said.

However, the ACA repeal effort could open the door to encourage legislators to adopt the PHIT Act.

“The repeal … has provided an opportunity that would not have been possible,” Sells said. “I think there is a general consensus, this would be a way to improve our health care system by getting people active. We cannot Medicare ourselves to health.”

Sells said the PHIT Act is supported by one in five members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans.

The expenses that could be absorbed by pre-tax medical accounts cover a wide range of sports and fitness-related expenses – basically, any expense that’s incurred for the sole purpose of physical activity.

Brian Pedersen
Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108.

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