In September of 2013, NIRSA signed on to support the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (S.2218/H.R.956). As is the case with most legislation introduced at the federal level, the PHIT Act has moved slowly through the process of bill becoming law—in fact, it has had to be introduced into the past five Congresses. However, the proposal—which would allow Health Savings Account (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Account (FSAs) funds to be used for qualifying physical activity expenses—has seen significant progress as of late.
PHIT has now been introduced in both the Senate and the House—a breakthrough in and of itself!—and, on July 17, the combined Senate and House bills received sponsorship from their 100th Congressional member! Additionally, and perhaps even more remarkably in this time of intense political polarization, support for PHIT is almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. NIRSA members should certainly be encouraged by the cross-aisle commitment of Congressional leaders to recognize and promote physical activity and its health benefits.
As NIRSA members work to foster lifelong habits of wellbeing within their campus communities, they are rightly concerned about the wider communities their students will enter into after graduation. NIRSA’s membership on the board of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA) has facilitated our association’s ability to support such legislative pushes early and follow their progress closely. As an organization that places Health and Wellbeing among its strategic values, NIRSA is excited by the PHIT Act’s potential for societal change.
Under the current law, US citizens’ pre-tax dollars are spent on illness and disease treatment measures. The PHIT Act aims to open that HAS and FSA funding up to preventative measures. Using pre-tax money for children’s sports activities, fitness center dues, or payments for exercise equipment would help individuals actively seek opportunities for fitness, wellness, and health as well as lessen potential financial barriers (see the initial fact sheet for more information). In the past, incentives such as this have effectively helped encourage homeownership, retirement savings, and higher education; there’s precedent for believing PHIT would be effective in promoting increased physical activity and improved health across the country.
- To learn more about NIRSA’s support for the PHIT Act, please contact NIRSA’s Executive Communications, Advocacy, and External Affairs Erin O’Sullivan.