Bill could add hospital surcharge to Gorge ticket prices

Courtesy of iFiber One News:

QUINCY -- A proposed state House bill may help Quincy Valley Medical Center's financial woes.

State Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, is working on a bill that would add a $1 surcharge to tickets for amphitheaters in rural areas. The money would go to hospital and fire districts serving the amphitheater and other concert venues.

Medical center officials previously said the Gorge Amphitheater is responsible for roughly $400,000 in additional costs between the additional staff needed during concerts and unpaid medical bills. They blame the costs for a portion of the roughly $3 million the hospital district owes Grant County.

The hospital and fire districts bear a portion of the costs from the concert venue, but they don't receive much of the benefit. Neither of the districts receives sales tax.

Manweller said the problem is pretty simple. Quincy Valley Medical Center is designed to serve 8,000 people. It's not designed to handle the roughly 40,000 teenagers coming to concerts.

"You're just going to have a level of injuries and emergency needs that far exceed the abilities (of the hospital and fire district to serve them,)" he said. "This bill will just make sure those who are profiting from the concerts are bearing the cost of the concert."

The bill proposes to compensate LiveNation for their administrative costs related to the tax. Manweller said he heard the company doesn't plan to oppose the bill.

The goal isn't to punish LiveNation for the actions of the concert goers, Manweller said.

"The people who are going to pay are the people who buy the tickets," he said.

The state representative credited the Grant County commissioners for their work on the issue, saying he is just helping them.

"They've done all of the work and the negotiations," he said. "I'm just providing them the tool."

The bill is expected to be heard in early January.