This paper explores the challenges faced by Federally Qualified Health Centers through conversations with some of the country’s most successful FQHC leaders. Their stories and insights offer valuable guidance for transforming health centers into healthcare organizations that can sustain themselves financially while expanding their missions to take advantage of the growing demand for healthcare services in their communities.
Solving the U.S. healthcare crisis will require dramatic improvement in the health-related actions and health status of Americans. Engaging people in quality care that ensures they get healthy, stay healthy, and/or proactively manage chronic conditions, drives lower costs and improved outcomes. It’s a task that sounds simple, but presents incredible challenges.
One of the keys to achieving the necessary improvement is expanding healthcare access and education to more people, particularly the medically underserved and uninsured. Health insurance exchanges and Medicaid expansions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have increased access to millions of Americans. This coverage growth, along with the industry move toward tightly coordinated, value-based care, is driving more demand for healthcare resources – especially primary care – creating significant opportunity for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs or health centers.) While well-positioned to meet this demand FQHCs must evolve from their roots as “mission-first, margin-maybe” to organizations with a foundation of “no margin, no mission in order to be successful.”