Like many types of businesses, there are consultants and companies who offer services to health centers. Some consultants may try to convince health centers that they need an extra needs assessment: don’t fall for their scare tactics! The needs assessment that a FQHC completes for a Service Area Competition (SAC), New Access Point (NAP), Look-alike Designation, or Look-alike Recertification must meet the compliance requirements for a health center but the basic requirements under the new compliance guide are not new. As always, the needs assessment should assess the need for health services in the service area you intend to serve. The rest of your application must show how your health center’s services meet the health care needs of the population served or proposed to be served.
Health Centers are required to have a board with at least nine and no more than 25 members with a patient majority of at least 51 percent. The patient members must be a reasonable representation of the people who seek and receive health services at the clinic in terms of the demographic attributes identified in the health center’s Uniform Data System (UDS) reporting. Non-patient board members must be representative of the community in which the health center is located; this can be met with individuals who live, work or have some other type of identifiable connection to the community.
It’s not clear when there will be any New Access Point (NAP) funding in the federal budget. With the uncertainty of funding availability, another option for stabilizing your health clinic is to consider becoming a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Look-alike.
Becoming a FQHC Look-alike can take 12-15 months, but with expert assistance, Look-alike status may be granted in less time. One of the best ways to speed up the application process is to minimize the need to resubmit documents and other elements of the application by having an experienced consultant and health center grant writer develop a work plan that addresses the 19 program requirements and guides the health clinic through the process.
A Health Center Program Grantee is a community health center (CHC) that receives grant funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care, under the Health Center Program. In order to become a grantee, CHCs must submit a successful grant application. Applications must include “letters of support” from other health care providers and potential community partners. Specifically, CHCs must have letters of support from other Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), FQHC Look-alikes, critical access hospitals, and local and state public health jurisdictions located in the area they serve. CHCs serving special populations (migrant seasonal agricultural workers, people who are homeless and residents of public housing) must have letters from organizations that also serve those populations.
The Service Area Competition (SAC) program is a funding opportunity that provides three-year grants to operate one or more Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). FQHCs must submit applications for a SAC grant when the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) issues a SAC NOFO (Notice of Funding Opportunity).