House passes Springer bill to allow fundraising at public hospitals

Measure would help Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland and others statewide

On Monday, February 7, the House voted unanimously to pass a law proposed by state Rep. Larry Springer that would give public hospitals clear legal authority to accept gifts and engage in fundraising.

“You can imagine the shock at Evergreen Hospital and other public hospitals when the state auditor found that they lacked the legal authority to do the kinds of fundraising they’ve done for years,” said Springer (D-Kirkland).  “I think it’s particularly important to be sensitive to the needs of these districts right now, given the tough financial times that we’re all in.”

Springer is the Deputy Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.

Current law only allows county hospitals to accept gifts and do fundraising, even though nearly half of the hospitals in Washington are public hospital districts.

Linda Long, representing the state auditor’s office, told the House Local Government committee that there have been numerous audit findings concerning the lack of specific authorization for fundraising by public hospitals. However, there has been no attempt to actually shut down the fundraising efforts.

House Bill 1280 expressly authorizes the 56 public hospital districts in Washington to pursue and accept gifts and to hold fundraising events.

“Hospitals operate on margins of only two or three percent,” said Springer. “The money that hospitals bring in through raffles, auctions, dinners and other fundraising efforts is crucial to maintaining service levels. My bill simply makes it crystal clear that every public hospital can continue to fundraise without fear that they are violating the letter of the law.”

Springer sought Republican co-sponsors for his bill to ensure bipartisan support for the measure.  The bill passed 90-0.