What Matters for Health Centers
Health centers need public policies that contribute to a robust, culturally competent, primary care workforce that is ready and willing to fill current staffing needs at health centers, as well as serve that role into the future. Part of NACHC’s agenda in this space is advocating for two essential programs, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program, which supply health centers with dedicated and hardworking health care workers, and train the next generation of health center doctors and dentists. These policies work in tandem to not only address the primary care shortage, but also help in increasing access to health care services for medically underserved communities.
National Health Service Corps
The National Health Service Corps’ (NHSC’s) mission is to build healthy communities by supporting health care providers dedicated to working in areas with limited provider access through loan repayment and scholarships. The NHSC collaborates with community health centers to provide financial, professional and education resources to medical, dental, mental, and behavioral health care providers.
Teaching Health Centers
The Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program, first authorized in 2010 and extended with bipartisan votes in 2015 and 2018, is an initiative designed to increase the number of primary care medical and dental residents trained in community-based settings. Medical residents are able to provide care in various health center and primary care settings including FQHCs, FQHC Look-Alikes, Community Mental Health Centers, and rural health clinics. THCGME pays for the training resident’s medical education expenses or for the expansion of health centers residency programs.
Throughout the country, there are geographic areas, populations, and facilities with too few primary care, dental, and mental health providers and services. In conjunction with State Primary Care offices, HRSA determines which of these should receive “shortage designations,” and therefore be eligible to receive certain federal resources. Federally Qualified Health Centers all received automatic designation as HPSAs.
Malpractice Liability Protection for Health Centers – FTCA
The Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act of 1992 and 1995 granted medical malpractice liability protection through the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) to HRSA-supported health centers. Under the Act, health centers are considered Federal employees, with the Federal government acting as their primary liability insurer. Information and resources regarding FTCA are below.