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May 29, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Poll: Should Gorge concertgoers pay surcharge to help Quincy hospital?

Once again, three days of intense partying at the Sasquatch! music festival led to a surge in patient visits to the little emergency room at Quincy Valley Medical Center.

Hospital Chief Executive Mehdi Merred said a preliminary count as of Thursday indicates 116 patients were admitted to the ER over the Memorial Day weekend — 56 or 57 of them came from the Gorge Amphitheatre. On an average day, the hospital sees about 10 patients. Still unknown is how many of this year’s patients skipped out on payment or lacked health insurance.

“Some say they have insurance, but it turns out they don’t,” Merred said over the phone, adding that some Sasquatch! attendees-turned-patients also come from Canada. “There needs to be some reconciling of information before we finalize the numbers.”

As The Seattle Times editorialized on May 24, many of the Gorge’s concert attendees are young adults who’ve been slow to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. Their choice to not be covered could leave local taxpayers in the Quincy area with a huge bill. Last year, the hospital reported $400,000 in uncompensated care and additional staff time. Live Nation, the operator of the Gorge, has refused to help defray the costs. Here’s a solution that should be considered by the Legislature:

State Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, is crafting a bill that would add a $1 surcharge per ticket for shows at the Gorge. The proceeds would be split between the Quincy hospital and the local fire department.

It’s a good idea. Live Nation should support Manweller’s plan. If Sasquatch! attendees could afford a ticket that costs more than $300 a pop, they should be able to cough up an extra buck to offset the price of partying a little too hard.

Do you agree with this idea? Vote in the poll below.


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