As many Americans scramble to meet the mandatory heath insurance deadline, state governments are filling their ranks with H-1B visa workers to get the Obamacare online interface working smoothly.
Many states have given major contracts to offshore IT service providers in order to get make their online healthcare IT projects user-friendly. For instance, Illinois awarded worldwide IT leader Cognizant a $74.1 million contract last June to upgrade its online Medicaid systems to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
According to the Illinois state government, both H-1B workers and U.S. employees will be part of the healthcare contract:
- In the initial stages, Cognizant assigned 13 permanent U.S. residents with Medicaid expertise to work on the project. The communication manager for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services said that seven staff members are former state of Illinois employees who have extensive knowledge of the state's Medicaid system.
- Cognizant then submitted paperwork with the U.S. Department of Labor to hire over 60 H-1B visa holders to help make the state’s Obamacare transition. Although Cognizant’s U.S. offices are in New Jersey, the company regularly relies on overseas workers for IT projects.
- U.S. Department of Labor records indicate that Cognizant’s Labor Condition Applications (LCA) requested senior system analysts at a pay rate of $76,814.
- The company made no attempt to hide the fact that they would be bringing foreign employees to help meet the health care deadline. “Due to the shortage of qualified talent in many parts of the U.S., we routinely file LCAs when we anticipate a large contract to ramp up," Cognizant said in a statement. "We file LCAs as a fallback measure in the event that we are not able to find qualified U.S. workers."
Even the nation’s capital reports using offshore labor to implement the new health care policy. Last January, the District of Columbia awarded Infosys a $49.5 million contract to replace its Medicaid eligibility systems with a health benefit exchange program that is compatible with the Affordable Care Act. Bangalore-based Infosys is one of the world’s major applicants for H-1B visas, receiving 5,600 approvals in 2012 alone.