What is an FQHC?

A Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) is more commonly known as a Community Health Center (CHC) and is a primary care center that is community-based and patient-directed.  By mission and design, CHCs exist to serve those who have limited access to health care although all are welcome. Unlike most private practices, CHCs welcome low income individuals, the uninsured and underinsured, immigrants, migrant and seasonal farm workers, those who are homeless, and those who live in public housing.

FQHCs are locally-based nonprofit organizations governed by a board of directors comprised of area volunteers.

At FQHCs, payment is based on ability to pay.

Income eligible uninsured patients are charged on a federally approved sliding fee scale to ensure income or lack of insurance is not a barrier to health and dental care.

As an FQHC, CHP receives 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 (DHHS).

What are the basics of a CHC?

  • Located in a Medically Underserved Area or an area that has Health Professional Shortages though some FQHCs are designed for specific high-risk target populations such as the homeless or migrant workers.
  • Governed by a Board of Directors who are from the community and a majority (51% or more) must be health center patients who represent the population served.
  • Provide comprehensive high quality primary health care as well as helping individuals get access to health care.
  • Provide services available 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, which are required to align with the area’s average fees.

Sliding Fee Scale

FQHCs must use a sliding fee scale with discounts based on patient family size and income in accordance with federal poverty guidelines. FQHCs must be open to all, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information, see HRSA’s Health Center Program Requirements.

Board of Directors

At least 51% of an FQHC’s Board members must use the health center’s services.  The volunteer Board 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 & Grant Application
  • Full authority over all aspects of clinic operations

No other entity/individual can have the ability to override or veto governing board decisions.