FMI Applauds IRS Ruling to Allow Consumers to Use Health Benefit Debit Cards at Supermarkets

FMI Applauds IRS Ruling to Allow Consumers to Use Health Benefit Debit Cards at Supermarkets











Arlington, VA (Vocus) December 19, 2006

The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) today applauded the December 14 IRS ruling that consumers may use Health Reimbursement and Flexible Spending Account (HRA/FSA) debit cards at all supermarkets and mass merchant outlets.

Previously, the IRS held that consumers could redeem benefits with HRA and FSA debit cards only at drug stores until supermarkets and mass merchants install the technology to process these transactions, known as an information inventory approval system (IIAS).

“This is a victory for consumer convenience. It frees them to obtain valuable health benefits at retail stores everywhere,” said FMI President and CEO Tim Hammonds. “FMI members have advocated for years that consumers should be able to use their FSA and HRA debit cards in supermarkets, responding to consumer frustration over the limits.

“FMI conveyed these concerns to the IRS, prompting the agency to issue the ruling clarifying that these limits would be lifted during the time period that supermarkets and mass merchants install the IIAS technology. In fact, once these systems are in place, customers will no longer have to retain paper receipts or submit them to their HRA and FSA plan administrators.”

The IRS ruling will allow for debit card purchases of hundreds of millions of dollars in drugs and other products that qualify for the benefits at supermarkets and mass merchant outlets in 2007, according to FMI estimates.

The ruling is timely because debit benefit plan administrators were processing FSA and HRA debit card transactions under a 2003 IRS guidance document that appeared to them to classify supermarkets and mass retailers as “medical merchants.” The IRS recently rejected this interpretation, and administrators announced plans to stop accepting debit card transactions from them on January 1, 2007. Under the new ruling, they are allowed to continue accepting these transactions in 2007.

Food Marketing Institute (FMI) conducts programs in research, education, industry relations and public affairs on behalf of its 1,500 member companies — food retailers and wholesalers — in the United States and around the world. FMI’s U.S. members operate approximately 26,000 retail food stores with a combined annual sales volume of $ 340 billion — three-quarters of all retail food store sales in the United States. FMI’s retail membership is composed of large multi-store chains, regional firms and independent supermarkets. Its international membership includes 200 companies from 50 countries.

For more information, visit http://www.fmi.org.

Contact:    

Bill Greer

202-220-0667

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IHRSA Applauds Introduction of Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act of 2011

IHRSA Applauds Introduction of Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act of 2011











Boston, Massachusetts (PRWEB) August 01, 2011

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) announced today its enthusiastic support of the recently re-introduced Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act of 2011 (H.R. 2649)—lauding the legislation as an important component in promoting primary prevention as a means of controlling America’s health care costs. Roughly $ 76.6 billion are spent each year on health care costs directly associated with inactivity. The PHIT Act would eliminate an existing federal policy barrier to exercise and create a health-promoting financial incentive for Americans to engage in physical fitness.

The PHIT Act allows for expenditures of up to $ 2,000 for physical fitness programs and exercise equipment to be payable out of pre-tax health investment accounts such as flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and/or medical reimbursement arrangements. Currently, these accounts are set up so individuals can pay for prescription drugs and doctor visits with pre-tax dollars. But there currently is no preventive component that supports health-preserving lifestyle practices.

“The PHIT Act helps put the focus on primary prevention,” says Joe Moore, IHRSA’s President and CEO. “It supports Americans in their efforts to engage in healthy physical activity, which will go far in deterring preventable chronic diseases that are driving up our country’s health care costs.”

Health-promoting activities, such as health club memberships, youth sports programs, pilates and yoga classes, home exercise equipment, and other fees associated with programs of physical activity, would to be paid with pre-tax dollars if the PHIT Act is passed into law. The legislation, however, would not increase the total contribution limits to those pre-tax accounts.

The PHIT Act was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives of the 112th Congress by Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), with strong bi-partisan support from Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ron Kind (D-WI), Bill Shuster (R-PA), Mike McIntrye (D-NC), William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Ron Paul (R-TX), C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersburger (D-MD), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), and Joe Barton (R-TX).

“We commend Congressman Brady and the bill’s co-sponsors and supporters for their leadership in creating a healthier, more prosperous America,” says Moore. “The PHIT Act is an important step in putting America’s physical and fiscal health back on track.”

About IHRSA

IHRSA is a not-for-profit trade association representing health and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and suppliers worldwide. IHRSA is committed to taking a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to America’s health and the battle against obesity and disease. IHRSA supports effective national initiatives to promote more active lifestyles for all Americans and is working to pass laws that will help affect societal changes toward a more fit America.

IHRSA is a co-chair of the Business and Industry Sector of the National Physical Activity Plan; a member of the advisory board of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD); a founding member of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity (NCPPA); a partner with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in promoting the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines; a network member of the Exercise is Medicine™ initiative; was a primary participant in the launch of the Adult Fitness Test introduced by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition; has helped the HHS Office on Women’s Health in promoting National Women’s Health Week, National Women’s Check-Up Day, and the Woman Challenge; partnered with the President’s Council in 1995 on the three-year “Get Up, Get Out” public awareness campaign focusing on youth fitness; was one of the earliest proponents of the PEP legislation (Carol M. White Physical Education Program); and recently introduced the publication, “The Economic Benefits of Regular Exercise.” Through its member clubs, IHRSA has offered community outreach and health promotion programs since 1986, including Commit to Get Fit, Families Involved Together, Teen Fitness Connection, I Lost It at the Club!, and Get Active America!

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Vocus©Copyright 1997-

, Vocus PRW Holdings, LLC.
Vocus, PRWeb, and Publicity Wire are trademarks or registered trademarks of Vocus, Inc. or Vocus PRW Holdings, LLC.