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Illinois not complying with orders to fund Medicaid: US judge

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A U.S. District Court judge on Wednesday said Illinois has failed to comply with federal consent decrees by minimally funding Medicaid during the state’s budget impasse.

Judge Joan Lefkow ordered renewed negotiations between Illinois and health care advocates for the poor to reach a goal of “substantial compliance” with the decrees.

Lawyers representing Medicaid recipients had asked the judge to give precedence to payments to managed care organizations participating in the state and federal health care program for the poor and disabled over other priorities the state was fully funding such as debt service on bonds and pensions.

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Lefkow said Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who pays the state’s bills, has not offered a “lawful basis” for not fully paying the Medicaid providers, who are owed about $2 billion.

“Although the court means no disrespect to the comptroller, who faces an unenviable situation, it finds that minimally funding the obligations of the decrees while fully funding other obligations fails to comply not only with the consent decrees, but also with this court’s previous orders,” the judge’s latest order stated.

Illinois is limping toward the June 30 end of a second-straight fiscal year without a complete spending plan due to a political stalemate between its Republican governor and Democrats who control the legislature.

Lawmakers ended their spring session last week without a fiscal 2018 budget deal, triggering downgrades that pushed Illinois’ credit ratings from S&P and Moody’s Investors Service to a step above junk.

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As a result of the stalemate, Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills reached $14.9 billion this week. The state’s Medicaid program covers about 3 million residents.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Chris Reese and Lisa Shumaker)

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Intel Democrat says Trump’s Russia adviser’s testimony was ‘incredibly helpful’ for impeachment

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On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told anchor Wolf Blitzer that President Donald Trump's former Russia adviser Fiona Hill's testimony was "incredibly helpful" for the impeachment investigation.

"You were in the room for Fiona Hill's closed-door deposition today," said Blitzer. "How helpful do you believe her testimony to your investigation will be?"

"Incredibly helpful, Wolf," said Swalwell, who serves on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. "Also helpful that she showed up, and, like some others, has chosen to defy orders from the president and the State Department to not show up. And when witnesses actually just show up, it advances our investigation."

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Trump could be an ‘unindicted co-conspirator’ in investigation into Rudy Giuliani: MSNBC panel

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President Donald Trump could be an "unindicted co-conspirator in the federal investigation that has already resulted in indictments of two associates of Rudy Giuliani, the panel on MSNBC's "Deadline: White House" on Monday.

"The question today, will Trump’s conduct in the Middle East -- which has already led to one of the fastest and most dramatic political realignments in history, one that strengthens Syria’s Assad, Iran, and Russia, all American adversaries -- contribute to a political realignment here at home, wherein Republicans participate in the congressional investigation into Donald Trump's demand that a foreign leader dig up dirt on a political rival," anchor Nicolle Wallace said.

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Florida Republican Governor linked to arrested Giuliani henchman Lev Parnas in video

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Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has been outed for associating with at least one of the Rudy Giuliani associates arrested last week.

According to a video posted by Reuters reporter Joey Roulette on Twitter, Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas can be seen standing with DeSantis after his election night win last November.

"Ukrainian businessman Lev Parnas, one of two Giuliani associates arrested last week and charged for scheming to funnel foreign money into various US elections, is seen (on the left) in this Nov 6 2018 video I took at Governor Ron DeSantis' election victory party in Orlando," tweeted Roulette.

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