IPHCA represents Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or community health centers—entities created by Congress to meet the health care needs of underserved communities and high-risk patients. These centers fill a void by providing care for those whom other providers often do not serve. Since FQHCs must, by law, serve the medically underserved regardless of their ability to pay, CHCs are located in geographic regions designated as having a shortage of medical providers who serve this population. In addition, the medically underserved may be low-income, uninsured, homeless, affected by HIV/AIDS, struggling with substance abuse and/or have special needs. In order to achieve the “federally qualified” status and, therefore, receive federal funding, health centers must:
- Be governed by at least a 51% majority patient board who make decisions about programs, services and expenditures.
- Be located in a medically underserved area or provide care to medically underserved populations.
- Provide comprehensive primary and preventive care, including dental and behavioral health.
- Employ physicians who are board certified or eligible for certification.
- Establish a formal relationship with one or more hospitals, which includes admitting privileges and 24-hour access to services.
- Submit comprehensive health plans for the geographic area served.