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Fitness Industry Gathers on Capitol Hill Hours After Healthy CHOICES Act is Introduced, Urging Congress to Pass Anti-Obesity, Exercise Promotion Legislation
Date:5/5/2010

vide Americans with a tax incentive to invest in preventative health care before costly treatment is necessary. The PHIT Act would not increase the total contribution limits to those pre-tax accounts.

The WHIP Act would help small businesses provide wellness benefits to their workers by correcting an inequity in the tax code. The WHIP Act not only reaffirms the right of employers to deduct the cost of providing off-site fitness center benefits to their workers, but it would also allow employees to exclude up to $900 of the off-site wellness benefit they receive from being considered taxable income. Under current tax law, businesses are permitted to deduct the cost of onsite exercise facilities and employees are not taxed on the benefit. However, if an employer provides this same benefit at an offsite facility, employees who take advantage of the benefit must pay income tax on the value of the subsidy.

The daily routine of Americans has changed dramatically over the past thirty years. Today, the average American spends half of his or her waking hours sitting. And since 1950, sedentary jobs in the United States have increased by 83 percent. Certainly, this increasing lack of movement has taken its toll. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that health care costs directly associated with inactivity were $76.6 billion in 2000, and because one in three Americans is covered by a taxpayer-funded health plan, roughly one-third of those costs—that’s $25 billion—fall directly on U.S. taxpayers.

Public health experts agree that people who maintain active, healthy lifestyles dramatically reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, and a physically fit population results in a decrease in health care costs and improved worker productivity. According to the World Health Organization, an investment of $1 in physical activity (time and equipment) leads to $3.20 in medical cost savings.

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