Federally Qualified Health Centers

A Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) is an entity which meets the requirements of a federally-funded health center, whether or not it receives a grant under Sections 329, 330 or 340 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act. These requirements include being nonprofit, having a community-based board of directors, providing or arranging all the necessary services, enabling the services, and providing care regardless of the ability to pay.  An FQHC receives federal funding under Section 330 of the PHS Act, as amended by the Health Centers Consolidated Act of 1966 (P.L. 104-299) and the Safety Net Amendments of 2002.

Five essential elements that differentiate FQHCs from other providers are:

  • They must be located in or serve a high need community, i.e. “medically underserved areas” or “medically underserved populations”.
  • They must provide comprehensive primary care services as well as supportive services such as translation and transportation services that promote access to health care.
  • Their services must be available to all residents of their service areas, with fees adjusted upon patients’ ability to pay.
  • They must be governed by a community board with a majority of members health center patients.
  • They must meet other performance and accountability requirements regarding their administrative, clinical, and financial operations.