Federal Health Centers: An Overview. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Elayne J. Heisler. May 19, 2017
The federal Health Center Program is authorized in Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) (42 U.S.C. §254b) and administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services. The program awards grants to support outpatient primary care facilities that provide care to primarily low-income individuals or individuals located in areas with few health care providers.
Federal health centers are required to provide health care to all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay, and to be located in geographic areas with few health care providers. These requirements make health centers part of the health safety net—providers that serve the uninsured, the underserved, or those enrolled in Medicaid. Data compiled by HRSA demonstrate that health centers serve the intended safety net population, as the majority of patients are uninsured or enrolled in Medicaid. Some research also suggests that health centers are cost-effective; researchers have found that patients seen at health centers have lower health care costs than those served in other settings. In general, research has found that health centers, among other outcomes, improve health, reduce costs, and provide access to health care for populations that may otherwise not obtain health care.
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