Arkansas doctor clears $650,000 of debt for cancer patients

An Arkansas doctor gave hundreds of patients a clean bill to start the New Year when he cleared their debt.

Dr. Omar Atiq closed his cancer clinic in Pine Bluffs after nearly three decades of business.

As part of the process, he needed to wind down outstanding debts. He tried for months to work with the billing company to resolve the matter, but he quickly decided it wasn’t worth it.

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"Over time, I realized that there are people who just are unable to pay," Dr. Atiq told "Good Morning America." "So my wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt."

Dr. Atiqu’s practice never turned away people who were sick simply because of a lack of insurance or funds.

Around 200 of Dr. Atiq’s former patients received a notice that the clinic was closing, and their debt had been cleared.

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The total amount cleared was a little over $650,000.

"I saw patients over the years who just didn’t have anything or who went bankrupt trying to pay for their treatment," Dr. Atiq said. "In many ways it seems like a totally unfair situation."

The billing company RMC of America said it was a "very kind gesture."

"I just hope that it made it a little bit easier for them. That’s it," Dr. Atiq added. "I just hope that it gave them a little sigh of relief and made it easier for them so they could face other challenges they may be facing in their lives."

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