Because a healthier Houston benefits everybody

About Community Health Centers

We have included information on community health centers, and FQHCs more specifically, from external resources, provided below.

Types of Health Centers

There are numerous types of health centers that serve as our nation’s “safety-net,” including but not limited to the following: Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Look-Alikes (LAs).

Q: What are Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)?

A: Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) are the main organizations receiving a government grant under the Health Center Program Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act to serve medically underserved areas or populations. FQHCs are required to provide comprehensive services to an underserved area or population, offer a sliding fee scale, have an ongoing quality assurance program, and have a governing board of directors, the majority of whom are patients of the health center. FQHCs are required to provide health care services to patients regardless of their ability to pay. They must also offer transportation assistance as an enabling service.

Q: What are Rural Health Clinics (RHCs)?

A: Rural Health Clinics are federally funded health centers providing services in areas designated as non-urban and underserved or having a current healthcare shortage. RHCs meet the requirements of Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act and are certified to receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

Q: What are Look-Alikes (LAs)?

A: Also known as FQHC Look-Alikes or Health Center Program Look-Alikes, these health centers meet all of the requirements of the Health Center Program including providing comprehensive health care services but do not receive government grant funding under the Health Center Program. Look-Alikes are, however, eligible for reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid under similar methodologies as FQHCs; are eligible to purchase discounted drugs through the 340B Federal Drug Pricing Program; and may access National Health Service Corps providers.

Q: Is there any overlap between FQHCs and RHCs?

A: No, health centers that are approved as FQHCs may not be concurrently approved as RHCs, or vice versa.

Q: What are Community Health Centers (CHCs)?

A: “Community health center” is a general term used more broadly to refer to health centers since it is not defined in statute like FQHCs or RHCs. It may also be used to describe a kind of FQHC.

Extracted from: Charlotte Lozier Institute, Fact Sheet: Reallocating Planned Parenthood’s Federal Funding to Comprehensive Health Centers

There is no lack of information on Federally Qualified Health Centers. However, what’s out there is a hodgepodge of confusing, sometimes conflicting information that often leaves more questions than answers. We have endeavored to point you in the right direction to answer your questions, and we’ve included links to trusted resources to supplement the information on our site.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), FQHCs:

  • Qualify for funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (PHS).
  • Qualify for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid*, as well as other benefits
  • Serve an underserved area or population
  • Offer a sliding fee scale
  • Provide comprehensive services (either on-site or by arrangement with another provider), including:
    • Preventive health services
    • Dental services
    • Mental health and substance abuse services
    • Transportation services necessary for adequate patient care
    • Hospital and specialty care
  • Have an ongoing quality assurance program
  • Have a governing board of directors

*Certain tribal organizations and FQHC Look-Alikes (organizations that meet PHS Section 330 eligibility requirements, but do not receive grant funding) also may receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.


FQHC Associates works with many types of organizations, including Primary Care Associations, Hospital Systems, Behavioral Health Centers, Medical Practices, Academic Institutions, and Not-For-Profit Community Organizations.


  • Development of new FQHCs & Look-Alikes
  • Hospital system/FQHC partnerships
  • Integrated primary care/behavioral health

Do you want to become an FQHC?

For any community or organization who is interested in becoming an FQHC, there are a number of resources available. The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has prepared an excellent guide (last revised in July 2011, but still very useful) called “So You Want to Start a Health Center” that provides an overview of the program.

Here are some more useful links for those interested in starting or becoming an FQHC:

When there are no funding opportunities available, organizations have another option: the FQHC Look-Alike. Since applicants are not competing for a portion of a fixed pot of funding, the process is different. This process is outlined in a HRSA document: Look-Alike Initial Designation Application Instructions.

Need More Help?

For personalized help and information to assist your organization in becoming an FQHC, fill out the form below to contact .