Federal grants to support new health centers have been available every other year since President George W. Bush set a goal to create 10,000 new health centers in 2005. The Obama Administration continued funding “New Access Points” with stimulus funds and the Affordable Care Act. With uncertainty around federal funding priorities under the Trump Administration, your clinic might want to consider becoming a community health center under the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look-alike program.
What is a health center?
A health center is a community-based, patient-directed organization that delivers comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary and preventive health care services to an underserved target population. Health centers also often integrate access to pharmacy, mental health, substance abuse, and oral health services in areas where economic, geographic or cultural barriers limit access to affordable health care services. Health centers deliver care to the most vulnerable individuals and families including people experiencing homelessness, agricultural workers, residents of public housing, and veterans.
Health centers work around cultural, linguistic, geographic and other obstacles to provide coordinated and comprehensive primary and preventive services. Both FQHCs and FQHC Look-alikes reduce health disparities by emphasizing care management and other enabling services.
What is the difference between a FQHC and a FQHC Look-alike?
Most health centers receive Health Center Program grant funding. When funded, the center is deemed a Federally Qualified Health Center. FQHC Look-alikes meet all Health Center Program requirements but do not receive federal award funding. Look-alike status allows health centers that do not receive grant funding to access some of the benefits of the Health Center Program that they would not otherwise be able to access.
All FQHC and FQHC Look-alikes gain the following benefits (FQHCs receive additional benefits):
- Access to FQHC Prospective Payment System reimbursement methodologies for services provided to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The enhanced reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid offers a Look-Alike a path to financial stability.
- 340B Federal Drug Pricing Program discounts for pharmaceuticals provide access to low-cost medications as well as a revenue stream.
- Free vaccines for uninsured and underinsured children through the Vaccines for Children Program.
- Help with recruiting and retaining primary health care providers through the National Health Service Corps.
In past funding announcements for new access point grants, FQHC Look-alikes have been eligible for bonus points as well.
What are the benefits of becoming a FQHC Look-alike?
- Receive automatic HPSA (Health Professional Shortage Area) designation.
How to apply for FQHC Look-alike status
Health centers who are new Look-alike applicants should review the Look-alike Initial Designation web page. It provides detailed application instructions and technical assistance resources. The process can take up to a year to complete, but with expert assistance, Look-alike status may be granted in six months.
How can a Health Center Solutions consultant help you become an FQHC Look-alike?
At Health Center Solutions we are dedicated to helping community health centers. We can help your center get organized and apply for FQHC Look-alike status. Our process starts with an assessment of your organization’s readiness to apply and then offers a road map to success. Health Center Solutions has a 100 percent success rate in getting Look-alike status for our clients.
Health Center Solutions’ dedicated professionals are focused on providing outcome-focused, customer-driven solutions. To schedule a meeting or to request more information about our solutions, please contact us today!