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Imagine a typical day in our nation's capital. There's a Congressional hearing on Medicare funding. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is holding a forum on its prospective payment system. Healthcare advocates are meeting to discuss the impact of the nursing shortage on an aging population. At least a dozen other key meetings and events relating to healthcare reform are unfolding around Washington, DC, and a part of me is wishing that human cloning was practical. You see, there are only three available VNAA staff in DC on this typical day. And, unless we increase our physical presence in DC, we will continue to miss the opportunity to bring the essential perspective of Visiting Nurse Associations (VNAs) to many of these discussions.


The VNAA realizes that we must mobilize the full force of our organization to advocate for our members and the patients they serve-every day. That is why we are moving our headquarters from Boston to Washington, DC, where we already had a satellite office.


The erosion of Medicare reimbursement is the greatest single threat to VNAs' ability to bring excellent healthcare where it is needed most. Job one for the VNAA must be to advocate effectively and forcefully for the restoration of that funding. The place to do that work clearly is Washington, DC.


Members say overwhelmingly whenever they are surveyed that advocacy is the service they value and need most from the VNAA. The move will not only make us more effective; it also will allow us to help our members become better advocates themselves. In the past, when members have come to visit us at the VNAA, the trip's sole purpose was to meet with association staff. Now meetings in Washington will provide an opportunity for our members to engage directly in the policy process.


Speaking of travel, trips between Boston and Washington, DC, consumed significant VNAA resources, both financial and human. We would much rather devote resources to traveling to member agencies to hear concerns and ideas and to help members build their own advocacy capacity.


Consolidating operations in Washington, DC, also will allow our team to function in a more integrated way, supporting each other and allowing us all to pitch in on any project devoted to meeting our members' needs. Many of our corporate partners have a strong presence in Washington, so we see the opportunity to work collaboratively to achieve our goals. Because most healthcare advocacy groups are headquartered in the capital, we will have the opportunity to learn more about best practices from these peers and deliver a higher level of service to our members.


Our transition has meant a significant change in staff. We all are sorry to say goodbye to the immensely talented team members based in Boston who were not able to join us for the move to DC. Their outstanding contributions to our members' success over the years have positioned the VNAA perfectly for an even more promising future, and they will be missed.


By the time this column is in readers' hands, we should just about be settling in to our new home. That is not big news. Organizations move every day. But this move also means that not-for-profit home healthcare will have a home, and a voice, at the heart of the policymaking world. That is big news-and exceedingly good news, too.