New York Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah will step down in June to take an executive position with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in California, the health department said late Wednesday.
Department spokesman Bill Schwarz said the move has been in the works for weeks. Dr. Howard Zucker, who is currently serving as deputy commissioner, will take over the department in the interim.
Under Shah's leadership, the department established a state health insurance exchange under the federal Affordable Care Act. Shah also became a lightning rod for critics of hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- who say the Cuomo administration is delaying a departmental study on the health impact of fracking.
Early Wednesday, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino called for Shah to resign, citing a news report about the department's spotty record of inspecting abortion clinics and the delay of the fracking study.
Astorino opposes abortion and supports fracking.
Cuomo administration officials say Shah's departure is unrelated to Astorino's comments or the report on clinic inspections.