Did you know that 1 in 12 people rely on Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) for health care?
What is a FQHC? It’s a community-based organization that provides comprehensive primary care and preventive care to all persons, regardless of ability to pay or health insurance status.
The care includes health, oral, and mental health/substance abuse services. FQHCs operate under the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which is part of HHS.
FQHCs are present in every state, territory and D.C. They are located in high need areas (i.e. few physicians, higher than average infant mortality, elevated poverty). Over 14,000 sites deliver FQHC care.
Since 2000, the number of patients served at HRSA-funded health centers has nearly tripled from 9.6 million to 28 million in 2018. This includes 7.5 million children, 1 in 5 rural residents, and 1 in 3 people living in poverty. More than 385,000 veterans are also served by a FQHC.
These health centers serve more patients with chronic conditions and are also more likely to accept new patients than other primary care providers. The majority of FQHCs receive reimbursement from Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance. Some also receive funding to focus on special population, including individuals experiencing homelessness, migratory and seasonal agricultural workers, and residents of public housing.
In 2018, 91.3% of all patients seen at a FQHC had an income at or below 200% of the poverty line. For a household of 4, that is an income of $49,200.
A key challenge for programs like FQHCs is securing enough resources to meet demand and increase capacity. The ACA expanded the role of FQHCs by investing billions into their infrastructure and increasing the number of sites and capacity.
If the ACA were repealed – ending the Medicaid expansion and health center trust fund – health centers would be extremely challenged to sustain their operations.
Image from HRSA.