Federal judge set to rule on Illinois payments to Medicaid

CHICAGO (AP) — A federal judge is expected to decide soon about issuing an order instructing Illinois to pay more of its health-care bills as the state enters its third year without a budget. Judge Joan Lefkow said during a Tuesday hearing in Chicago that she could rule in the afternoon the same day. But she hadn’t as of Tuesday evening. A lawyer for Medicaid recipients says an order would help clarify that payments to health-care providers should be at least as high a priority as other payments, including for state salaries. Thomas Yates said “poor people…should not suffer” because politicians can’t agree on a budget. Lawyers for the state say an order could make it harder for Illinois to deal with a backlog of unpaid bills that’s now around $14 billion.