Over Christmas, an oncologist from Arkansas, United States, announced in writing to 200 patients that he erased their outstanding medical bills out of sympathy for the many families that were financially challenged because of the corona pandemic.
“My wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt. We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it,” says Dr Omar Atiq, founder of the Arkansas Cancer Clinic. “We thought there was not a better time to do this than during a pandemic that has decimated homes, people’s lives and businesses and all sorts of stuff.”
Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Atiq had his clinic for nearly 30 years. Upon working with a debt collection company to handle the outstanding payments, totaling $650,000 worth of debts, Dr. Atiq contacted David Wroten of the Arkansas Medical Society advocacy group “to make sure there was nothing improper” about forgiving his patients’ debt. “If you knew Dr. Atiq, you would better understand,” says Mr. Wroten. “First, he is one of the smartest doctors I have ever known, but he is also one of the most compassionate doctors I have ever known.”