Pennsylvania Association of

Community Health Centers

Supporting Pennsylvania's health centers in increasing access to quality primary health care for all

Providing Care to Underserved Communities

FQHCs, FQHC Look-Alikes and RHCs provide quality, affordable care to medically underserved communities in Pennsylvania.

What is a health center?

Most health centers are grantees of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), under Section 330 of the US Public Health Service Act, and include community health centers (FQHCs), migrant health centers, health care for the homeless health centers, and public housing primary care centers. Others are known as FQHC Look-Alikes. They meet all the requirements of health centers and reap most of the benefits of health center status, but do not receive a federal grant.  See Health Center Program Factsheet.


Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or Community Health Centers are community-based, non-profit organizations that provide comprehensive primary health care to patients in their community. FQHCs are created by individuals in a community coming together with a mission to improve access to primary medical care in an underserved area. Every Community Health Center is different but they all care for patients in a community-oriented, culturally competent setting, and they contribute to the local economy by employing area residents and purchasing products and services. They are not operated by the government. 

FQHCs:
  • Receive funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act through HRSA.
  • Must meet 19 specific program requirements set by HRSA that help promote optimal patient care
  • Must have a patient-majority (at least 51%) governing board of directors
  • Must serve at least one Medically Underserved Area (MUA) or Medically Underserved Population (MUP)
  • Provide a range of core health and ancillary services
  • Treat anyone who seeks care regardless of insurance or ability to pay. Each FQHC must develop a sliding fee discount program for those below 200% of poverty
  • Learn more about Pennsylvania’s FQHCs (Link to PA Health Centers page).

FQHC Look-Alikes provide comprehensive primary health care services to all persons regardless of ability to pay and must meet all program requirements consistent with FQHC program requirements. Look-Alikes, however, do not receive section 330 grant funding.    

Look-Alikes are: 

  • Eligible to apply to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for reimbursement under FQHC Medicare and Medicaid payment methodologies
  • Eligible to purchase discounted drugs through the 340B Drug Discount Program
  • Receive automatic Health Professional Shortage Area designation
  • Eligible to access National Health Service Corps providers

Rural Health Clinics (RHCs)

The following is excerpted from the Rural Health Information Hub: The Rural Health Clinic (RHC) program is intended to increase access to primary care services for Medicaid and Medicare patients in rural communities.  RHCs can be public, nonprofit, or for-profit healthcare facilities, however, they must be located in rural, underserved areas. They are required to use a team approach of physicians working with non-physician practitioners such as nurse practitioners (NP), physician assistants (PA), and certified nurse midwives (CNM) to provide services. The clinic must be staffed at least 50 percent of the time with a NP, PA, or CNM. RHCs are required to provide outpatient primary care services and basic laboratory services.