National Center for Farmworker Health
Call for Health
1770 FM 967 • Buda, TX 78610
(512) 312-2700
(800) 531-5120
fax (512) 312-2600
March 2015
Feb Apr

Migrant Health Center Legislation

For more than 40 years, health centers in the United States have delivered comprehensive, high-quality primary health care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. During that time, health center grantees have established a tradition of providing care for people underserved by America's health care system: the poor, uninsured, and homeless; minorities; migrant and seasonal farmworkers; public housing residents; and people with limited English proficiency.

Federal support for entities that would later be called health centers began in 1962 with passage of the Migrant Health Act, which funded medical and support services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their family members. Two years later, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 provided Federal funds for two "neighborhood health centers," which were launched in 1965 by Jack Geiger and Count Gibson, physicians at Tufts University in Boston.

Those first two centers created an innovative new model of community-based, comprehensive primary health care that focused on outreach, disease prevention and patient education activities. The early centers also promoted local economic development, job training, nutritional counseling, sanitation, and social services. Most importantly, they established one of the enduring principles of the program: respect for patients and communities and their involvement in the operation and direction of health centers.

In the mid-1970s, Congress permanently authorized neighborhood health centers as “community health centers” and “migrant health centers” under sections 329 and 330 of the Public Health Service Act. Congress expanded the health center system in the later years of the 20th century. In 1987 the Health Care for the Homeless program was created by the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act and 3 years after that the Public Housing Primary Care program was established by the Disadvantaged Minority Health Improvement Act of 1990. Passage of the Health Centers Consolidation Act of 1996 brought authority for all four primary care programs – community (section E), migrant (section G), homeless (section H), and public housing (section I) -under section 330 of the PHS Act.    (Source : The Bureau of Primary Health Care )

Below is a link to electronic copies of up-to-date legislation as it pertains to migrant and community health centers.


Health Centers Consolidation Act of 1996  

Public Health Service Act (Sections 1-330) as amended through 2004   

Health Care Safety Net Act of 2008 

The Public Health Service Act is part of the U.S. Code. Section 330 was the numbering for the health centers section when the Public Health Services Act was a stand-alone document. The term "Section 330" is still used today. However, as part of the U.S. Code, it has been renumbered. Title 42 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 6A is the Public Health Service Act, and section 254b is the equivalent of Section 330. It is available online