Free and Charitable Clinics (FCC) are mostly volunteer-based organizations that provide a range of outpatient medical, dental, pharmacy and mental health care to low-income, un/underinsured individuals. Free and Charitable Clinics:
- Is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization or is a part of a larger 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization
- Is located in the State of Wisconsin
- Has a primary mission to provide health, mental health, and /or dental care services at little or no charge to uninsured, underinsured, underserved, economically and socially disadvantaged, and vulnerable populations of Wisconsin
- Provides one or more of the following services: medical care, mental health care, dental care, or a prescription medication provider
- Utilizes volunteer healthcare professionals, non-clinical volunteers, and partnerships with other healthcare providers
- Is not a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or FQHC look-alike, but may be a “hybrid” model that contains elements similar to an FQHC or FQHC look-alike.
- Hybrids are FCCs who bill one or more third-party payers such as Medicaid, Medicare, or commercial insurers.
Funding Support: Donations, small grants; some clinics have small patient co-pays.
Wisconsin Volunteer Health Care Provider Program (VHCP) – A state program that can provide liability coverage for licensed health professionals who volunteer their services to provide outpatient care at free clinics. In April 2014, Wisconsin Acts 241 and 344 became effective, amending Wis. Stat. § 146.89 which authorizes the program. These acts authorized a few key changes:
- Program administration will move from the Department of Administration to the Department of Health Services.
- Clinic and non-profit sites will be responsible for credentialing providers.
- The current paper application process for registering volunteer providers will be replaced with an online registration and management system.
If you have questions, email the Volunteer Health Care Program.
Resources for communities interested in developing a free clinic:
- National Association of Free Clinics - A membership organization that has resource publications on clinic start-up and job descriptions, helps free clinics order discounted and donated products, and maintains a list of many free clinics.
- Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, Inc. – A member association that supports, strengthens, and advocates for the uniqueness of the Wisconsin free and charitable clinics, the patients they serve, and the communities with whom they partner.
- Federal Tort Claims Act Coverage of Free Clinic Volunteer Health Care Professionals – Similar to Wisconsin's program. Clinics must submit an annual application to Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care.
- HRSA Rural Health Outreach Grant Program – Federal program that offers competitive grants to support the development of new and innovative health care delivery systems in rural communities that lack essential health services. Applicant must be located in a rural area, must be public or private non-profit, and must include collaboration with at least two other community partners.