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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Primary Care: The Health Center Program

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What is a Health Center?

For more than 45 years, HRSA-supported health centers have provided comprehensive, culturally competent, quality primary health care services to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations.

Health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that serve populations with limited access to health care. 

Health Center Program Fundamentals

  • Located in or serve a high need community (designated Medically Underserved Area or Population). Find MUAs and MUPs
  • Governed by a community board composed of a majority (51% or more) of health center patients who represent the population served. More about health center governance
  • Provide comprehensive primary health care services as well as supportive services (education, translation and transportation, etc.) that promote access to health care.
  • Provide services available to all with fees adjusted based on ability to pay.
  • Meet other performance and accountability requirements regarding administrative, clinical, and financial operations.

Types of Health Centers

  • Grant-Supported Federally Qualified Health Centers are public and private non-profit health care organizations that meet certain criteria under the Medicare and Medicaid Programs (respectively, Sections 1861(aa)(4) and 1905(l)(2)(B) of the Social Security Act and receive funds under the Health Center Program (Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act).
  • Non-grant-supported Health Centers are health centers that have been identified by HRSA and certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as meeting the definition of “health center” under Section 330 of the PHS Act, although they do not receive grant funding under Section 330. They are referred to as "look-alikes."
  • Outpatient health programs/facilities operated by tribal organizations (under the Indian Self-Determination Act, P.L. 96-638) or urban Indian organizations (under the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, P.L. 94-437).
Health Center Expansion

Expansions of the Health Center Program, including $11 billion provided by the Affordable Care Act and $2 billion provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are helping health centers nationwide serve more patients, create new jobs and meet the significant increase in demand for primary health care services among uninsured and underserved people.

Health Centers and the Affordable Care Act fact sheet (PDF - 240 KB)

Technical Assistance

Technical Assistance (TA) is the provision of advice, assistance, and training to ensure the successful development and operation of primary health care programs.

More Technical Assistance >

Data & Statistics

Uniform Data System (UDS) Reports, Data Highlights and Reporting Technical Assistance.

More Health Center Data >