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Planning Council Specific Q&A: COVID-19

Friday, May 15, 2020

TargetHIV

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From the Planning CHATT Listserv - Planning CHATT has been working with HRSA to get guidance on Planning Council operations and requirements during this public health emergency. We have compiled the following information in response to your frequently asked questions.

The information below comes from two sources: the HRSA HAB Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions page and responses directly from HRSA in response to questions that PCs have submitted. If you have further questions, please contact your project officer.

CARES Act Funding: Waiver of Planning Council Responsibilities

During the April 15 webinar, hosted by HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB), HRSA was able to obtain greater flexibility for the FY 2020 CARES Act funding as it pertains to RWHAP provisions and funding limitations. Please note that planning council responsibilities with regard to the COVID-19 CARES Act funding are waived. § 2602(b)(4) of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act.

Join the next HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau All Grant Recipient Webinar, Wednesday, May 20 from 2 to 3 p.m. ET.

Questions and Answers

Term Limits and Quorum

Question: What instruction can the HIV/AIDS Bureau provide pertaining to virtual meetings as it relates to Planning Council and our Committee meetings? Our bylaws require for physical presence when voting at the Planning Council and Committee meetings. Can the bylaws and policy and procedures be relaxed due to the COVID-19 when it comes to voting?

HRSA Response: HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau understands that this is a public health emergency and that some grant activities, including activities by Planning Councils, may be impacted by COVID-19 emergencies within their jurisdictions, which may impact their ability to meet grant requirements. Some Planning Council activities may be able to be conducted remotely or virtually, however, generally Planning Councils are not considered “essential services.” Please talk with your project officer regarding alternative approaches to planned activities. Once the emergency has waned, we will work with you on the completion of required activities.

Allowable Expenses for Technology

Question: Can PC buy phones, electronic devices help PC members with connectivity during this emergency so members can attend meetings? Also, can consumers who are not voting members of the PC, but on the consumer committee be provided with electronic devices, etc. so they will be able to fully participate in meetings?

HRSA Response: Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA) is the RWHAP service category that may be used to provide pre-paid cell phones for RWHAP clients, including those clients that serve on the planning council. Please refer to PCN 16-02 for additional information regarding this service category. However, the provision of communication devices to any non-client member of a planning council constitutes an administrative expense, and is subject to the administrative cost cap.

To leverage scarce resources, the recipient should also coordinate with existing partners at the state, regional, and local level in advance to identify and define appropriate roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency. This includes establishing relationships with local hospitals, health departments, and other large community health care providers.

Question: Are planning council activities considered “essential services”?

HRSA Response: HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau understands that this is a public health emergency and that some grant activities, including activities by Planning Councils, may be impacted by COVID-19 emergencies within their jurisdictions, which may impact their ability to meet grant requirements. Some Planning Council activities may be able to be conducted remotely or virtually, however, generally Planning Councils are not considered “essential services”. Please talk with your project officer regarding alternative approaches to planned activities. Once the emergency has waned, we will work with you on the completion of the required activities.

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