WHAT ARE HEALTH CENTERS?

Community, Migrant, Homeless, and Public Housing Health Centers are non-profit, community-directed health care providers serving low income and medically underserved communities. For almost 50 years, the national network of health centers has provided high-quality, affordable primary and preventive care, as well as dental, mental health and substance abuse, and pharmacy services. Also known as Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), they are located in areas where care is needed but scarce, and improve access to care for millions of Americans regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Their costs of care rank among the lowest, and they reduce the need for more expensive hospital-based and specialty care, saving billions of dollars for taxpayers. Currently, over 1,200 health centers deliver care through over 9,000 service delivery sites in every state and territory.

For more than 45 years, HRSA-supported health centers have provided comprehensive, culturally competent, quality primary health care services to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations.

Health centers are:

   1. Community-based and patient-directed organizations that serve populations with limited access to health care. Health Center Program Fundamentals Located in or serve a high need community (designated Medically Underserved Area or Population).
   2. Governed by a community board composed of a majority (51% or more) of health center patients who represent the population served. More about health center governance.
   3.Provide comprehensive primary health care services as well as supportive services (education, translation and transportation, etc.) that promote access to health care. Provide services available to all with fees adjusted based on ability to pay.
    4. Meet other performance and accountability requirements regarding administrative, clinical, and financial operations.

Types of Health Centers:

  •     Grant-Supported Federally Qualified Health Centers are public and private non-profit health care organizations that meet certain criteria under the Medicare and Medicaid Programs (respectively, Sections 1861(aa)(4) and 1905(l)(2)(B) of the Social Security Act and receive funds under the Health Center Program (Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act).
  •     Non-grant-supported Health Centers are health centers that have been identified by HRSA and certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as meeting the definition of "health center” under Section 330 of the PHS Act, although they do not receive grant funding under Section 330. They are referred to as "look-alikes."
  •     Outpatient health programs/facilities operated by tribal organizations (under the Indian Self-Determination Act, P.L. 96-638) or urban Indian organizations (under the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, P.L. 94-437).
            For additional information, please enjoy these fact sheets:
            America's Health Centers
            Health Centers & the Uninsured
            Cost Effectiveness
            Health Centers & Medicaid