Pennsylvania Association of

Community Health Centers

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

PA Health Centers, Serving the Special Populations in their Communities

Providing quality affordable care to all Pennsylvanians.

Pennsylvania’s Community Health Centers provide care to all populations within their communities.  Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act legislates health center program funding for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, public housing residents and homeless populations.  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) also provides technical assistance and support for “other” special populations such as gender and sexual minorities, the elderly, veterans, people living with HIV/AIDS and school-based health centers.  


Migrant Health:

In 2016, Pennsylvania health centers served more than 6,429 migratory and seasonal workers. Currently two health centers are migrant health centers with one of these centers overseeing statewide the migratory and seasonal farmworker population.  Signed into law on Sept. 25, 1962, by Pres. John F. Kennedy, the Migrant Health Act established the authorization for delivery of primary and supplemental health services to migrant farmworkers. The Migrant Health Program is currently funded under the Consolidated Health Care Act of 1996 and administered by the Office of Minority and Special Populations in HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health Care. 

Homeless Populations:

In 2016, Pennsylvania health centers served 23,891 homeless patients. Homelessness is defined as “an individual who lacks housing (without regard to whether the individual is a member of a family), including an individual whose primary residence during the night is a supervised public or private facility that provides temporary living accommodations, and an individual who is a resident in transitional housing.” A homeless person is an individual without permanent housing who may: live on the streets; stay in a shelter, mission, single-room occupancy facility, abandoned building or vehicle; or in any other unstable or non-permanent situation.  Those identified as “doubled up” are individuals unable to maintain their housing situation and forced to stay with a series of friends/extended family members, as well as those that are to be released from a prison or hospital if there is not a stable housing situation to which they can return.  

Public Housing:

In 2016, close to 140,000 residents of public housing received care through Pennsylvania health centers. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition is housing that is established to provide decent and safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. Public housing comes in all sizes and types, from scattered single-family houses to high-rise apartments for elderly families.  


School-Based Health Centers:

Several Community Health Centers in Pennsylvania have school-based health centers and in 2016 close to 9,000 patients were seen in these types of health centers. School-based health centers are exactly what the name implies: the primary care service delivery site is located in the school. Students and their families rely on school-based health centers to meet their needs for a full range of age-appropriate health care services.   


In 2016, more than 13,000 veterans received their care at a health center in Pennsylvania.  VA Community Care provides veterans access to health care in their communities when services are either: not available at a VA facility; or distance or appointment wait times makes these services inaccessible. Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) is a nationwide program that utilizes healthcare contracts to provide veterans access to medical care when local VA facilities cannot.  The Veterans Choice Program (VCP), which supplements the PC3 program, is a benefit that allows eligible veterans to receive health care from a community provider rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility.  FQHCs may participate in the VCP by joining the PC3 Network or by signing a provider agreement with Health Net Federal Services, one of the VA administrative contractors managing the VCP based on geographic assignments.



As part of required screening services, all health centers offer HIV testing and counseling either directly or through a formal referral agreement. Some health centers also participate in the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which provides a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support/social services including case management, prevention education, and medical benefits counseling for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured. 


Gender & Sexual Minorities:  

According to HRSA, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens and other gender and sexual minorities “are a diverse community that share a common need for culturally competent health care that recognizes and responds to specific medical risks.” Many of Pennsylvania’s Community Health Centers help gender and sexual minorities meet health challenges posed by social and structural inequities, such as stigma and discrimination. One resource is the National LGBT Health Education Center, supported by HRSA through a cooperative agreement with The Fenway Institute.