US doctor forgives $650,000 in medical bills for cancer patients

A US oncologist has wiped out nearly $650,000 worth of debts for 200 cancer patients after realising that many of them were struggling to pay.

Dr Omar Atiq closed his cancer treatment centre in Arkansas last year after nearly 30 years in business.

He worked with a debt collection firm to gather outstanding payments, but then realised many families had been hit hard financially by the pandemic.

Over Christmas, he wrote to patients telling them any debts would be erased.

“Over time I realised that there are people who just are unable to pay,” Dr Atiq told ABC’s Good Morning America.

“So 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.”

Dr Atiq, who is originally from Pakistan, founded the Arkansas Cancer Clinic in Pine Bluff in 1991, providing treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and CAT scans. He is now a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock.

“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,” Dr Atiq said, quoted by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Via – The BBC

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