Arkansas Doctor Erases $650,000 of Medical Debt for His Cancer Patients

Another story of great generosity in the wake of the outstanding medical debt for Americans, this time from Arkansas. Dr. Omar Atiq opened The Arkansas Cancer Institute in Pine Bluff back in 1991, which served cancer patients in the area for almost three decades. With staff shortages looming and the effects of the pandemic on the rise, Dr. Atiq sadly closed the clinic in March of this year, but not before making one final, startling act of generosity to his patients.

A Christmas card went out to patients in December, informing them that any lasting debt still owed was immediately forgiven. The message even directly pointed out the burdens of deductibles and co-pays for individuals with active health insurance, costs which can be daunting, especially for those in chronic conditions and receiving specialized care.

In all, the amount of medical debt Dr. Atiq vanquished with one incredible Christmas card was $650,000. 200 patients received this surprise holiday gift, ensuring that the retiring oncologist left the practice with a flourish.

In a time of domestic crisis, men of goodwill and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. - John F. Kennedy

Speaking with Good Morning America, Dr. Atiq went into greater detail about the matter of medical debt, and coming to his decision along with his wife Mehreen: “Since I started practicing, I’ve always been rather uncomfortable with sick patients not only having to worry about their own health and quality of life and their longevity and their families and their jobs, but also money…You add to it the absolute devastation that the pandemic has wrought, and you think, thank God that we’re fairly comfortable and this was something we could at least do to help the community.”

Dr. Atiq now looks ahead at his professorship at The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, as well as the futures of his four children – all of whom are doctors already, or pursuing the path of medicine. All in all, this is certainly looks to be a family where intelligence and benevolence go hand in hand.

Cover photo: Dr. Omar Atiq, far left, an oncologist, standing next to his wife Mehreen, forgave his patients around $650,000 medical debt.

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