Access Partnership's focus is on the Health Care Safety Net.

See listing of Free and Charitable Clinics at Free-Charitable Clinics

See listing of Community Health Centers at Community Health Centers


The Institute of Medicine defines the health care safety net as: “Those providers that organize and deliver a significant level of health care and other related services to uninsured, Medicaid, and other vulnerable populations”   (IOM, America's Health Care Safety Net: Intact but Endangered, 2000).

The Institute of Medicine further defines “core safety net providers” as having: 1. “legal mandate or explicitly adopted mission, they maintain and ‘open door’ [policy], offering patients access to services regardless of their ability to pay;” and 2. a “substantial share of their patient mix [that] is uninsured, Medicaid, and [members of] other vulnerable populations.” (IOM)

The National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH) adds that “they (the health care safety net) are distinguished by their commitment to provide access to care for people with limited or no access to health care due to their financial circumstances, insurance status, or health condition” (NAPH, What is a Safety Net Hospital?). 

See listing of Virginia Free and Charitable Clinics at


Community Health Centers are also known as Federally Qualified Health Centers or FQHCs

Free and Charitable Clinics

What is a Free or Charitable Clinic? Clinics are safety-net health care organizations that utilize a volunteer/staff model to provide a range of medical, dental, pharmacy, vision and/or behavioral health services to economically disadvantaged individuals. Such clinics are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, or operate as a program component or affiliate of a 501(c)(3) organization. 

Entities that otherwise meet the above definition, but charge a nominal/sliding fee to patients, may still be considered free or charitable clinics provided essential services are delivered regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Free or charitable clinics restrict eligibility for their services to individuals who are uninsured, underinsured and/or have limited or no access to primary, specialty or prescription health care. See 

The mission of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is to ensure that the medically  underserved have access to affordable quality health care. However, it is our larger vision of being a national voice promoting quality health care for all that motivates donors, volunteers, and communities around the country to join our cause, as we work together to build a healthy America, one patient at a time.  Within our Association, we value volunteerism, generosity, collaboration and human dignity. See   


What is a Community Health Center? Community Health Centers or CHCs are federally supported non-profit clinics located in medically underserved areas – both rural and urban. They share a mission of making comprehensive primary care accessible to anyone regardless of insurance status. Federal legislation requires every Health Center Program Grantees and Look-Alikes to have a governing board that represents its community. A majority of the board members must be patients who use the health center’s services.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), FQHCs:

  • Qualify for funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (PHS).
  • Qualify for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid*, as well as other benefits
  • Serve an underserved area or population  
  • Offer a sliding fee scale  
  • Provide comprehensive services (either on-site or by arrangement with another provider), including: 

*Certain tribal organizations and FQHC Look-Alikes (organizations that meet PHS Section 330 eligibility requirements, but do not receive grant funding) also may receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

See HRSA  FQHC Fact Sheet

See listing of Virginia Community Health Centers: Virginia Community Health Association

We were out in the community doing enrollment classes for the medical program and its great to see an organization make a real difference in peoples lives. I got to speak with some of the patients and they were really grateful for the programs.

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