From MCO to CBO

Oct 3 · 3 min read

By Rose Gasner

Ihave always wanted my career to be about “helping people” or “making the world a better place,” from the time I was a patient’s rights lawyer working on end of life issues, to my years at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, when my roles varied from running the civil detention program for the tuberculosis program to Deputy General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer. Now, I’m working for AIRnyc, supporting families dealing with chronic conditions including asthma, diabetes, hypertension and social isolation. It’s been a little over six months since I joined AIRnyc as Executive Vice President and it seems like time to share my early impressions about my new organization and role.

I now describe myself as a “lawyer by training” in meetings, and I am happy to be free of that narrow scope. I loved my time as an attorney at Healthfirst, New York City’s largest Medicaid managed care plan, but I didn’t get to use my public health experience to the extent I wanted. Managed care is highly regulated, and the attendant legal work can be highly boring. Responding to audits and working on standard contracts are examples of day to day tasks as an insurance lawyer. While I also worked on population health initiatives, an amendment to a hospital contract would always be more important to the company than an interesting pilot program. Understanding “value based contracting” is an invaluable skill, but pouring over dozens of contracts and responding to incredibly picky regulatory questions is not fulfilling. AIRnyc gives me the opportunity to use both my public health program experience and my understanding of payment models in a mission driven non-profit providing direct services to human beings. I’m still a lawyer and using my negotiating and contracting skills, but I’m also drawing on my program and public health background.

I joined AIRnyc at a fascinating and critical time for community-based organizations working on social determinants of health. In New York, as the first iteration of DSRIP comes to an end, and the requirements for value based contracting in Medicaid ramp up, there are new opportunities for AIRnyc to shift to earned revenue that will benefit families. I speak the language of managed care and understand the challenges. Community based organizations who want to participate fully as partners in the health care system need to have rigorous privacy and security policies and systems, as well as the ability to evaluate the work and demonstrate economic value. AIRnyc has all those elements in place.

Am I having fun yet? A resounding, “YES.” I work at our offices in the South Bronx, at home or in a co-working space (where I am the oldest person, always…). I’m doing business development, implementing our contracts, troubleshooting issues, helping supervise staff and reviewing research. I meet with partners ranging from government agencies and payers, to clinics, hospitals and IPAs, as well as with philanthropy and private investors. AIRnyc is engaged in direct people-helping, and even though I am not doing that work myself, that mission is central to my work every day.

Next blog: Rose goes on a home visit.

Rose Gasner, JD, Executive Vice President, joined AIRnyc in 2019. Rose is passionate about patient rights and she loves working at the intersection of health care and law. She has extensive experience in government, managed care, and academia. She worked at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), served as a lawyer for Healthfirst, and taught classes at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy and Fordham Law School. She has publications in the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Public Health and the Lancet. Rose believes Community Health Workers are an integral part of the health care delivery system and is energized to help build a next generation model of care for vulnerable communities. A voracious reader, Rose is in two book clubs, has raised three fabulous children and likes adventure travel with no cell phone service. Rose is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Dartmouth College.


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AIRnyc’s Community Health Workers meet people where they live to improve health, connect families to social care and build health equity at the community level.

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