Like most Americans, Dr. Nitin Gupta, the Dobbs Ferry pediatrician whose Direct Primary Care, or “concierge” practice, was first publicized in The Hudson Independent, was deeply touched by the stories of federal workers and their families struggling to make ends meet during the shutdown that ended this weekend. He felt a personal connection, since his own father had been a California state employee affected by furloughs.
My parents were not certain if they could afford the co-pay for a doctor’s visit,” he wrote on Twitter. So he reached out to other Direct Primary Care physicians under the banner of “Doctors United for Good” with a call to offer free medical care to the children of furloughed federal workers. “All co-pays, deductibles and fees will be waived until the government reopens,” he wrote, adding that if and when families were getting paychecks, they would have the choice to repay him or not.
One local resident who was touched by his offer was Tarrytown’s Anne Richards, who oversees the community Facebook page, 10591, where she posted Dr. Gupta’s offer and began monitoring Twitter reactions to the offer. She also contacted CBS News Correspondent David Begnaud, who arranged an interview with the doctor that aired on the 11:00pm broadcast.
In the first 36 hours following the offer, half a dozen other Direct Primary Care doctors had joined in the offer, as well as the NaturalFit Pharmacy in Irvington, which volunteered to offer prescriptions at a reduced cost.
By then, the dominant news was that the shutdown was about to come to an end—at least for the next three weeks. Did his offer still stand? Yes, said the doctor, noting that federal workers still didn’t have a paycheck and that the whole ordeal might return in three weeks if Congress and the president can’t come to an overall agreement on The Wall.