Tri-County Steering Committee Minutes October 14, 2020



October 14, 2020, 10:05-11:05am

By Zoom Videoconference


Members Present:        M. Diaz (Co-chair), A. Straus (Co-chair), D. Ahmed, S. Altaf, L. Best, L. Bucknor, A. Contreras, D. Dominguez, L. Hakim, D. Klotz, K. Mandel, C. Oldi, J. Palmer, G. Plummer, S. Richmond, A. Ruggiero, K. Scott, A. Simmons, D. Smith, S. Thomas

Members Absent:         M. Acevedo, V. Alvarez, M. G. Ferone, J. Gago, A. Hardman, P. Laqueur, A. Pizarro, L. Reid, S. Sanchez, D. Scholar, T. Seabrook

Staff:                               NYC DOHMH: J. Acosta, A. Guzman

Agenda Item 1: Opening/Moment of Silence/Minutes/Announcements

Ms. Diaz and Ms. Straus opened the meeting followed by introductions and a moment of silence.  The minutes of the July 8, 2020 meeting were approved with no changes.  

Mr. Oldi announced that Legal Services of the Hudson Valley has a Benefits Counseling Pilot Program to assist people with HIV who want to re-enter the workplace with education and planning around benefits (e.g., Medicaid), budgeting, etc.  For more information, email 

Ms. Hakim reported that there had been concerns about the residents of Greystone losing their housing, but all clients have been placed in new housing.

Mr. Altaf reported that Hudson Valley Community Services is merging with Cornerstone Family Health Center.  The merger is expected to be completed by early next year.  Also, the Emergency Financial Assistance program is seeking referrals for people who need help with housing, food, COVID-related PPE and other emergency needs.

Ms. Best announced that the Consumers Committee is co-sponsoring on November 17th, t a screening of the film “Nothing Without Us: The Women who will End AIDS”, followed by a panel discussion.

Ms. Contreras reported that Putnam County Health Department is conducting a migrant flu shot clinic in addition to its regular migrant immunization clinic.

Agenda Item #2: Updates

Consumer Update

Ms. Diaz reported that consumers in Tri-County are keeping in touch despite the challenges.  The Women’s Group met outdoors with social distancing, which was important to address the social isolation that many members have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Planning Council Update

Mr. Klotz welcomed the Committee back and congratulated two new Tri-County representatives who have been appointed to the full Council, Mr. Altaf and Ms. Sanchez.  There will be a New Member Orientation by Zoom on October 23rd, which all Steering Committee members are invited to join.  The Consumers Committee will be conducting a workshop at the Power of Quality Improvement Conference, to be held virtually on December 8th.  The workshop is on addressing barriers to telehealth and other online services, a topic that Ms. Best has brought to the attention of the committee.  The first full Council meeting of the new planning cycle will be on October 29th, featuring a presentation on the FY 2021 Ryan White Part A Grant Application.

Recipient (Grantee) Report

Ms. Plummer reported that HRSA has released the ADAP client level data report.  There will be an Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America webinar on October 26th, 2pm (for more information:  HRSA also announced a waiver from their annual site visit requirement.

A number of service categories in the NYC portion of the EMA are scheduled for re-bid, starting with Mental Health, Harm Reduction and Short-term Housing for 2023.  Tri-county programs were re-procured recently.  The 2021 RWPA application was successfully submitted on September 30th along with the core medical services waiver, which allows the EMA to spend more than 25% on supportive services (e.g., housing, food, EFA), as per the Council’s spending plan.

The theme for the December 8th Power of Quality Improvement Conference is “Redesigning Systems in the time of Social Justice and COVID-19”.  The focus is on improving service delivery in those contexts.  Finally, Dr. Oni Blackstock left her post as Assistant Commission of NYC DOHMH BHIV.  The acting assistant commissioner is Dr. Anisha Gandhi, who is also Director of Social Justice and Racial Equity Initiatives.

Agenda Item #3: Policy Update

Mr. Guzman presented on current topics in law and policy.  On October 8, 2020, the New York State Department of Financial Services released a circular letter clarifying coverage for PrEP and related services. The letter states that in accordance with New York State Insurance Law, all state-regulated health insurers must provide coverage for PrEP and related testing and services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) without patient cost-sharing. 

In September 2020, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, in collaboration with UNAIDS, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), and Talus Analytics, launched the HIV Policy Lab, a data visualization and comparison tool tracking national laws and policies across 33 indicators in 194 countries.  The HIV Policy Lab seeks to document where key HIV science has been translated into policy, identify gaps between evidence and policy, and build accountability for a more inclusive, effective, rights- and science-based HIV policy response.

A recent report documented an increase in coverage among people with HIV following Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation. In 2018, about one in 10 (11%) nonelderly people with HIV were uninsured, on par with 11% of the general population.  

On October 6, 2020, Governor Cuomo announced a new cluster action initiativetargeting five counties (Brooklyn, Queens, Rockland, Orange) identified as COVID-19 hot spots, divided into three color-coded zones – yellow, orange, and red – with successively higher restrictions.  Data for the Rockland cluster was presented. 

On September 18, 2020, Putnam County announced the launch of a new website where the public can review activities of the county’s Policing Reform and Reinvention Collaborative(PRRC). The PRRC brings together local police agencies and community stakeholders to begin the process of developing a plan focusing evidence-based policing strategies.  On September 3, 2020, LoHud reported that the Rockland County Sheriff had agreed to various reforms demanded by NAACP following several racist posts on his personal Facebook page. On September 29, 2020, Westchester County announced its Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force will finalize its policing reform plans by the end of 2020.

October 15th is now the final day to complete the 2020 census.  Election Day is November 3rd with early voting available from October 24-November 1.  VOTE!!

Agenda Item #4: Other Business

The next meeting will be held on Friday, November 6th by Zoom videoconference.  The focus will be scenario planning for a possible reduction to the FY 2021 grant award.  The national RWPA appropriation is unchanged, but given the continued reductions in new cases in the New York EMA compared to other regions of the country, we are likely to continue seeing gradual reductions in our formula award.  The Committee will discuss various scenarios, including asking the PSRA Committee to continue to hold TC programs harmless.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.