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Originally published Friday, May 23, 2014 at 4:38 PM

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Editorial: Gorge Amphitheatre should pick up medical tabs from events like Sasquatch!

Gorge Amphitheatre concertgoers have become the houseguests from hell — at least for the tiny Quincy Valley Medical Center 17 miles away. Live Nation, the theater’s owner, should charge a fee to pay for medical bills.


Seattle Times Editorial

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THIS weekend’s three-day Sasquatch! music festival at the Gorge Amphitheatre near Quincy is expected to be another boisterous party for 25,000 concertgoers — and another huge headache for the tiny hospital 17 miles away.

When music, crowds, alcohol and drugs mix at the venue, the result can be as much as a nearly sixfold spike in the number of drunk, unconscious and beat-up patients in the emergency room at Quincy Valley Medical Center. During last June’s Paradiso electronic music festival, a 21-year-old died from a methamphetamine overdose.

Hospital officials, in part, blame the Gorge and its operator, Live Nation, for nearly $400,000 in unpaid medical bills and extra staff time in 2013.

Live Nation so far has refused to help defray that cost, according to news reports. Officials with the concert giant say they are not responsible for the behavior of customers. A Live Nation spokeswoman says the company already contributes $1.2 million in admission taxes to Grant County each year, along with improvements to parking, water lines and on-site medical services.

That's nice, but a good neighbor must do more. Local taxpayers should not have to clean up the mess left behind by concert attendees, including thousands from the Seattle area.

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.

Many of the concertgoers-turned-patients are most likely among the so-called “young invincibles” — the 18- to 34-year-olds who most often lack health insurance — President Obama has urged them to buy coverage through Affordable Care Act exchanges.

The plight of the Quincy hospital is a reminder for those who didn’t sign up this year: your choice carries a significant cost.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).



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