Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Big Picture - February 2013

This post is part of a new monthly series published on the fourth Thursday of every month. It will provide an overview of themes and topics from the general meetings and committee meetings of the Ryan White Planning Council and Prevention Planning Group each month. To view meeting materials and presentations, please visit

Ryan White Planning Council (RWPC)

Every summer, the Planning Council (RWPC) makes contingency plans for how it will spend money for fiscal year, which starts the following spring. That way, they have a plan when they find out how much money they’ll be getting from the federal government. Grant awards come out at a different time every year, based on when the federal budget is finalized. As of the writing of this post on February 28, 2013, we have not yet received our full award for the fiscal year starting on March 1, 2013. This year, planning will be unusually challenging.

We are facing an impending sequester and the end of the continuing resolution (a type of continuation budget when Congress fails to make appropriations). Although the Ryan White program will still be fundable, the Ryan White Treatment Modernization Act is set to expire in the fall. While this could complicate our responsiveness to changes caused by the Affordable Care Act, government and community leaders decided not to seek reauthorization due to political and budgetary concerns. We’re also uncertain about the impact of Medicaid expansion – which, at this time, is very likely in New Jersey and unlikely in Pennsylvania. It could be called a perfect storm. (Learn more here.)

To prepare for a rocky year, the RWPC and its committees have pressed forward with their work. The Finance and Comprehensive Planning Committees have already begun to talk about the summer’s allocation process. The Finance Committee has agreed to hold two allocations processes this year: one in the traditional format, and a second that addresses potential changes caused by national-level issues. Since we are not sure how much money we’ll have for the year starting March 1, 2013, the Finance Committee recommended that we act as if we have received a 5% cut (a suggestion then approved by the RWPC).

Meanwhile, the Comprehensive Planning Committee looked at how the Ryan White service categories fit in the continuum of care. (Learn more about the continuum of care here.) The Needs Assessment Committee received a presentation from the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office (AACO) on its Client Services Unit (CSU) and quality management, so they would have a better idea of how to measure the effectiveness of the different services. The Positive Committee talked about disclosure and reviewed their goals and objectives. The Nominations Committee also discussed their policies and next steps in uncertain times. They’re also accepting applications for RWPC membership through the second week in March.

Prevention Planning Group (PPG)

In the second half of 2012, the PPG and RWPC jointly explored the idea of combining care and prevention planning in one body. This idea was tabled due to the uncertainty that surrounds the current planning environment. But, the PPG was still in need of a change. The CDC released new HIV Planning Guidance in July 2012, marking a shift away from the old duties of prevention planning.

In order to decide what the future of prevention planning should look like in Philadelphia, the PPG called two special February meetings: one on structure, and another on membership. A small group of dedicated members began the hard work of ironing out the details. They chose to recommend that the PPG have 12 – 20 voting members (plus non-voting members), who would meet every other month to plan for stakeholder engagement. They also recommended that the PPG build more flexibility into its process. (Read a summary of points from the workgroup meetings.)

When the PPG met in February, consultant Matthew McClain presented draft bylaws based on the recommendations from the two workgroups. He also created an outline of a work plan for the new group. After a thorough review of the bylaws, PPG members identified a few areas for change as well as their next steps. In coming weeks, the PPG will create roles and responsibilities for voting and non-voting members. They will also develop an application and scoring process, beginning with a special membership meeting.

This is an exciting, if tumultuous, time to get involved in community planning for the Philadelphia area. To learn more, follow the links in this post, attend one of the meetings listed on our calendar, or email to find out how to get involved.

Briana Morgan is a health planner and website coordinator at the Office of HIV Planning. You can also find her on Google+.

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