Doctor forgives patients’ $650,000 debt for cancer treatments

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — An Arkansas cancer treatment center is forgiving $650,000 in outstanding debt from 200 patients.

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Dr. Omar Atiq, founder of the Arkansas Cancer Clinic sent patients letters this week indicating the debt was wiped clean, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

“Being sick is hard, having cancer is harder, and having cancer in this pandemic is devastating,” Atiq told KARK.

The letter, which came as part of a holiday card to patients, read:

“The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to serve you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. Unfortunately, that is the way our health care system currently works. Arkansas Cancer Clinic is closing its practice after over 29 years of dedicated service to the community. The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients. Happy Holidays.”

It’s the first time the clinic, started in 1991, has done something like this. The clinic closed in February and does not plan to reopen.

“I am just a regular physician – a regular person that they have in the neighborhood– just so happens to be me standing here,” Atiq said. “The ones struggling couldn’t pay, so we thought we could just write off the debt.”

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