Health Center Program and Requirements


Health centers are community-based and patient-directed organizations that deliver comprehensive, culturally competent, high-quality primary health care services to Michigan and the nation’s most vulnerable individuals and families. Health centers integrate and provide multiple health services in areas where economic, geographic, or cultural barriers limit access to affordable, quality care to reduce health disparities.

Health centers:

  • Are community-based and patient-directed.
  • Provide comprehensive, high-quality primary care and preventive services regardless of patients’ ability to pay.
  • Employ inter-professional teams and patient-centric approaches.
  • Provide care coordination and other enabling services that facilitate access to care.
  • Collaborate with other providers or programs to improve access to care and community resources, such as those that address social determinants of health.

Highlighted Topics

  • How to Become a Health Center
    • Since it began in 1965 with just two health centers, the Health Center Program has grown into a national primary care network with more than 14,000 delivery sites serving more than 30 million people a year in communities in Michigan and across the United States.
    • There are two primary paths to becoming a health center- Applying to Become a Funded Health Center and Applying to Be Designated as a Health Center Program Look-Alike- but many other opportunities also exist for partnership with existing health center organizations to provide and expand access to care in communities.
    • MPCA is happy to provide guidance and support to organizations and communities in understanding the health center program, opportunities to expand access to critical health services, and more. Please contact Anne Scott for more information.
  • How the Health Center Program Works
    • Most Health centers receive Health Center Program federal grant funding administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration to improve the health of underserved and vulnerable populations. Some health centers receive funding to focus on special populations, including individuals and families experiencing homelessness, migratory and seasonal agricultural workers, and residents of public housing. There are also health centers that meet all Health Center Program requirements but do not receive federal award funding. These are called Health Center Program look-alikes. The majority of health centers’ operating funds come from Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance, patient fees, and other resources.
    • Health centers leverage a variety of other related programs. All health centers, including look-alikes, gain access to:
    • Health centers that receive federal grant funding may also gain access to supplemental funding opportunities unique to the health center program, medical malpractice coverage under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), and some health centers receive federal loan guarantees for capital improvements.


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