In celebration of National Health Center Week, August 7-14, we are spreading the word about health centers, how they function, and how you can help us make a difference in the communities we serve.
What is a Health Center?
According to the Healthcare Advocacy Network, there are four main components every health center must have in order to operate as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
- Be located in areas of high need: Designated as medically underserved areas or populations by the federal government
- Offer a comprehensive set of services: Based on community needs, health centers offer medical, dental, vision, behavioral health, and enabling services
- Be open to everyone: Regardless of insurance status or ability to pay, and offer sliding fee scale options to low-income patients
- Have patient-majority governing boards: At least 51% of every health center board of directors must be made up of patients
By meeting the above criteria along with lots of other detailed requirements, health centers can be designated as FQHCs. This designation makes health centers like NOAH eligible to receive federal grant funding.
Are FQHCs Funded by the Government?
Not entirely. FQHCs have been around for nearly 60 years and while healthcare has changed a lot in the last six decades, health centers have too. Here’s a look at how FQHCs are funded today:
- Grants and contracts consist of all government allocations including limited-time funding like COVID-19 relief dollars.
- Patients includes all dollars exchanged for patient services billed through medicaid (AHCCCS), medicare, private insurance, and self-pay options.
- Other refers to individual and corporate donations.
What is the Impact of FQHCs?
Health center visits nationwide saw a five-year growth rate of nearly 18% from 2015 to 2020. In Arizona the number of visits grew by more than 60% while health center locations have grown by 40% both locally and nationally. This shows a major need for health center facility growth in Arizona. At NOAH, we’ve addressed this growth by increasing telehealth services and expanding the size and capacity of our clinics. Our new Desert Mission location opened earlier this year in Sunnyslope and we are on-track to introduce our new expanded Cholla Health Center in south Scottsdale by the end of 2022. NOAH had 237,000 patient appointments in 2021 averaging out to roughly five visits last year for each of our 45,000 patients.
What Can You Do to Help?
Vote in Every Election
Health centers rely on government funding for a significant portion of our operating costs. This funding is decided on by our elected officials and/or guidelines set through legislation. Both of these factors are determined by YOU, your neighbors, your friends, your family, and your opinions when you vote. Take the opportunity to share your voice by voting in every election. Voting can be complicated but there are lots of unbiased resources to help explain who and what is on the ballot in terms that are easy to understand. If you need more information on how to vote or register to vote, check out vot-er.org.
Donate or Support Businesses Who Do
While the piece for “Other Funding” is seemingly small in comparison to the rest of the pie, it accounts for a lot of budget dollars – in NOAH’s case $4.5 million. Donating doesn’t have to mean writing a check or dropping a $20 bill in a collection box. There are lots of other ways to donate. Programs like Amazon Smile and Fry’s Community Rewards give a portion of what you spend to an organization of choice in your community. There’s also the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit which essentially lets you allocate up to $800 (married filing jointly) or up to $400 (individual) from your taxes to NOAH as a qualifying non-profit organization.
Tell Everyone You Know
Spread the word about health centers, our impact, and all the ways to support our efforts in each community. It’s as easy as hitting “share” on social media, asking your community to sign up for fundraising opportunities that benefit NOAH, or telling your friends and family about the NOAH health center in your neighborhood.
Become a Patient
Choose a health center for your family’s healthcare needs. NOAH offers high-quality integrated healthcare in multiple locations throughout the valley as well as telehealth options for virtual appointments wherever you are. Everyone is welcome at NOAH and it is our privilege to serve you. Request an appointment today.