A Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) provides primary care services to underserved areas and those that are uninsured or homeless. Funding is received for these services through the HRSA Health Center Program. To achieve status as a Federally Qualified Health Center, a facility must operate under a governing board and offer a sliding fee scale, dependent on the individual's ability to pay.
Healthcare facilities that typically fall within the guidelines include homeless health centers, community health centers, rural health centers, and those that serve residents of public housing.
What Qualifies an FQHC?
There are several requirements that must be met before a health center can receive FQHC status and funding. These include the following:
- Be located in and work with a medically underserved area
- Offer a sliding fee structure and provide care to all in the community, regardless of the ability to pay
- Work as a community-based facility and also hold non-profit organization status
- Keep a board of directors that must be primarily seated by the center's patients
- Offer a range of services, including comprehensive primary care, mental health, dental, preventive care, and transportation to and from appointments
- Establish an active quality assurance program
Federally Qualified Health Center Funding
As federally-recognized organizations, FQHCs are able to obtain funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act. Additional funding options are also available, including up to $650,000 startup and access to other federal grants.
Because FQHCs serve a wide variety of individuals, many government programs are available. For instance, prescription and non-prescription medications can be difficult for those in underserved areas to access. FQHCs are eligible to purchase these drugs under the 340B Federal Drug Pricing Program for outpatients in their care. Other vital programs Federally Qualified Health Centers have access to include:
- Vaccines for Children Program (VFC)
- Medical malpractice coverage from the Federal Tort Claims Act
- Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement
- Access to the HRSA National Health Service Corps and its offerings, including primary care, mental health, and dental
- Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH)
- Health Center Program UDS
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