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.
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.