What are Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs)?
Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) include all organizations receiving grants under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (PHS). FQHCs qualify for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other benefits. FQHCs must serve an underserved area or population, offer a sliding fee scale, provide comprehensive services, have an ongoing quality assurance program, and have a governing board of directors. Certain tribal organizations and FQHC Look-Alikes (an organization that meets PHS Section 330 eligibility requirements, but does not receive grant funding) also may receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
Frequently Asked Questions about federally qualified health centers (FQHC) Exit Disclaimer
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
If you are looking for a Federally-supported Health Center and other health centers in a rural area, you can search by address, state, county and ZIP code at Find a Health Center.
Health centers are important safety net providers in rural areas. Of the over 22 million Americans who receive care from health centers, approximately a third are rural residents, according to America’s Health Centers. In order to qualify for federal support as a health center, an organization must:
- Offer services to all persons, regardless of the person’s ability to pay
- Establish a sliding fee discount program
- Be a nonprofit or public organization
- Be community-based, with the majority of their governing board of directors composed of their patients
- Serve a medically underserved area or population
- Provide comprehensive primary care services
- Have an ongoing quality assurance program
There are numerous definitions and distinctions that should be understood related to health centers, including:
- Health Center Program Grantee: Health centers that receive grant funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care, under the Health Center Program, as authorized by Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act. Most grants are funded to serve an entire community, while others are funded to target specific populations, such as migrants, persons experiencing homelessness, and residents of public housing.
- Federal Qualified Health Center (FQHC): FQHCs are outpatient clinics that qualify for specific reimbursement systems under Medicare and Medicaid. FQHCs include federally-supported health centers (both grantees and Look-Alikes) as well as certain outpatient Indian providers. Note that different rules apply to outpatient Indian providers who enroll in Medicare or Medicaid as FQHCs.
- FQHC Look-Alike (FQHC LA): Look-Alikes are health centers that have been certified by the federal government as meeting all the Health Center Program requirements, but do not receive funding under the Health Center Program.
- Community Health Center (CHC): A general term not defined in the Section 330 statute that is used to describe health centers, due to their community-based nature. It encompasses several types of health centers.
- Health Center: is a non-specific term that does not specifically identify whether a health facility is a health center program grantee, FQHC, or an FQHC-LA.