A federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., ruled that about 234,000 illegal aliens with permanent state residency may receive Medicaid assistance. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Sifton came in response to a 1981 class-action lawsuit that could have national significance if adopted by federal courts elsewhere. The Medicaid statute "includes neither an express alienage restriction . . . nor does the act set forth anywhere a single statement of criteria establishing eligibility for Medicaid," Sifton said. The Department of Health and Human Services argued that illegal aliens were not eligible for Medicaid.