For more than 50 years, health centers have delivered affordable, accessible, quality, and cost–effective primary health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. During that time, health centers have become an essential primary care provider for millions of people across the country.
Health centers are community-based and patient–directed organizations that deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high–quality primary health care services. Health centers also often integrate access to pharmacy, mental health, substance use disorder, and oral health services in areas where economic, geographic, or cultural barriers limit access to affordable health care services. Health centers deliver care to the nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families, including people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, residents of public housing, and the nation’s veterans.
A list of Minnesota's Community Health Centers, Federally Qualified Health Center Look–alikes, Health Care for the Homeless, Migrant Health Centers, Public Housing Primary Care Programs, Updated September 2018, (Excel).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) administers the following programs under Section 330 of the Public Health Services Act. These programs support primary health care services to medically underserved, disadvantaged, and high–risk and hard–to–reach populations. For more information and application materials are on the BPHC Web site.
- The Community Health Center Program is funded under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act. Community Health Centers (CHCs) serve adults and children in rural and urban areas who experience financial, geographic or cultural barriers to care. CHCs provide primary and preventive health care, mental health services, dental services, transportation and translation services. These Health Centers are public or private corporations created through the initiative of local citizens interested in bringing health care to their areas. They are governed by consumer–majority boards of directors, and thus represent the communities they serve. With the help of the community, the board attracts local and outside funding, develops facilities, purchases equipment, hires staff, markets services and links with other area health providers. Health Centers receive reimbursement for services from patients according to their ability to pay. Like other health care organizations, Health Centers also receive third party reimbursement from private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.
- The Migrant Health Program is funded under Section 330(g) of the Public Health Service Act. Migrant Health Centers (MHC) provide a comprehensive range of primary health services to migrant and seasonal farm workers and their dependents, and are linked with hospital and other health and social services in the area.
- The Health Care for the Homeless Program, was established under the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, and reauthorized under Section 330(h) of the Health Centers Consolidation Act. Health Care for the Homeless Programs provide outreach and case management services, primary medical and dental care, 24–hour emergency services, mental health and substance abuse counseling and treatment to people who are homeless. They also provide referrals to other services, such as emergency food, clothing and shelter programs, placement services for long–term employment and housing. Unlike the Health Center model, people who are homeless are not charged directly for services and clients are allowed to remain in the program for up to one year following placement in permanent housing.
- The Public Housing Primary Care Program, created under the Disadvantaged Minority Health Improvement Act of 1990 and reauthorized under the Health Centers Consolidation Act of 1996, supports the provision of accessible and comprehensive, preventive and primary health care services to improve the health status of residents in public housing. The program provides health promotion and disease prevention activities and primary health care services at public housing developments or at other locations immediately accessible to residents of public housing.
- The Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look–alikes. The Federally Qualified Health Center provision is also available to organizations that meet all of the federally funded Community Health Center program expectations, but do not receive federal operating grants under the Section 330 Public Health Service Act. Such organizations are formally designated as Federally Qualified Health Center Look-alikes by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Federally Qualified Health Centers: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services fact sheet on FQHCs (PDF)