What is an FQHC?
A federally qualified health center (FQHC), also known as a Community Health Center (CHC), is a community-based primary care center led by a board of directors with patient representation. Nearly 1,300 CHCs operate in the U.S. to serve those with limited access to health care — although patients of all income ranges are welcome; our own Community Health Center is financially diverse. Unlike many private medical and dental practices, CHCs welcome low-income individuals, the uninsured and under-insured, immigrants, migrant and seasonal farm workers, those who are homeless and those facing other challenges with access to health care.
- FQHCs are locally-based nonprofit health care organizations providing comprehensive, high quality primary health care to all patients, regardless of ability to pay.
- At FQHCs, payment is based on ability to pay; income-eligible, uninsured patients are charged on a federally approved sliding fee scale to ensure that income or lack of insurance is not a barrier to health and dental care.
- To help meet the needs of lower-income patients, CHCs receive a portion of their funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a division of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
- CHCs are located in “medically under-served areas” or in areas with a shortage of health care professionals. CHCs may also be oriented to specific high-risk populations such as the homeless or migrant workers.
- CHCs are governed by a Board of Directors whose members are from the community; a majority (51% or more) must be health center patients who represent the population served.
- CHCs must provide services to all with a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay (family size and income) for those who live at 200% or below of the federal poverty level. Those who are above 200% FPL pay full fee, and these fees must align with the area’s average fees.
- CHP does not discriminate in the provision of services to an individual (i) because the individual is unable to pay; (ii) because payment for those services would be made under Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance; or (iii) based upon the individual’s race, color, sex, national origin, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Sliding Fee Scale
FQHCs must be open to all, regardless of their ability to pay.* FQHCs use a sliding fee scale with discounts based on patients’ family size and income, in accordance with federal poverty guidelines. View more information about income guidelines.
At least 51% of an FQHC’s Board members must use the health center’s services. The volunteer board of directors must meet monthly and it is responsible for:
- Legal and fiduciary oversight for clinic operations and grants
- Strategic planning and evaluation of progress
- Approve annual budget and grant applications
- Full authority over all aspects of clinic operations
No other entity/individual can have the ability to override or veto governing board decisions.