NY Health Commissioner Resigns Amid Fracking Criticism

Dr. Nirav Shah, New York’s Health Commissioner, is resigning his post as of June to take a position with California-based Kaiser Foundation Health Plan. Word of the decision surfaced on Wednesday night, a mere hours after Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino called for Shah’s resignation citing delays in his department’s investigation into the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing. Astorino accused Shah of doing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “bidding” in an effort to delay the decision until after the election.

Governor Cuomo denies any connection between the pending fracking decision and Shah’s resignation. Rather, he told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the decision was based on the imbalance of public- and private-sector salaries. Regarding the status of the Department of Health’s investigation, Cuomo told the paper: “I said do it, do a thorough job, and when it’s done, it’s done. I never gave them a time frame. I don’t think you can give a researcher a time frame.” Cuomo went on to say that the joint review being conducted by the DOH and Department of Environmental Conservation should not be delayed by the resignation as the acting commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, will assume responsibility when Shah departs in June.


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