National Health-Through-Fitness Day in March a success. Advocates walked the halls of Congress campaigning for two physical activity initiatives - the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) and the PHIT (Personal Health Investment Today) Bill.
PEP provides grants to local school districts to purchase equipment and train teachers in innovative physical education methods. The PEP program has successfully enhanced K-12 physical education programs across the country through grants used for training in state-of-the-art health and wellness-based physical education methods which include the addition of new technology such as heart-rate monitors, pedometers, and the acquisition of state-of-the-art PE equipment and facilities.
The PHIT Bill would change current federal tax law to allow for the use of pre-tax dollars to cover expenses related to sports, fitness and other physical activities. Americans could invest up to $1,000 annually to pay for physical activities by investing money in existing pre-tax Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), and/or medical reimbursement arrangements. PHIT would only expand the eligible expenses...it would not increase contribution limits to these accounts.
The consortium asked Congress to approve level funding for PEP in Fiscal Year 2008 -- $73 million. The PHIT Bill, which was introduced this January by U.S. Representative Jerry Weller (R-IL), is in its infancy and needs additional sponsors in both the House and the Senate.