Judge rules Illinois not in compliance on Medicaid payments

Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.

CHICAGO (AP) _ A federal judge in Chicago says Illinois isn’t in compliance with court orders to promptly pay health-care bills for low-income and other vulnerable groups even as the state heads into a third year without a budget.

Wednesday’s ruling by Judge Joan Lefkow says officials “have not lived up to their agreements” in the civil case. She adds the comptroller “faces an unenviable situation” in deciding which bills to pay but that its approach doesn’t comply with standing courts orders.

Despite that criticism, Lefkow did not order Illinois to pay $2 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills immediately and in full. That could have deepened the financial crisis.

Lefkow’s ruling instructs the state and Medicaid recipients to negotiate a sufficient payment of bills to ensure critical medical care isn’t jeopardized.