Some state governments are willing to hire offshore outsourcing firms to work on IT projects under controversial contracts that don't bar use of temporary foreign labor, or workers on H-1B visas.
Two multimillion dollar government health care IT projects, one in Illinois and the other in the District of Columbia, illustrate what's going on.
In Illinois, Cognizant was awarded a $74.1 million contract in June to upgrade the state's Medicaid systems to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare.
In January,Washington D.C. awarded Infosys a $49.5 million contract to develop a health benefit exchange and replace its Medicaid and eligibility systems.
In Washington, H-1B visa holders may already be working on systems. In Illinois, state officials say that no H-1B workers are working on its project - for now.
Illinois said that Cognizant has assigned 13 workers, all U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents with Medicaid experience and expertise, to work on the project. Seven of the staff members are former state of Illinois employees with extensive knowledge of the state's Medicaid system, according to spokeswoman Kelly Jakubek, communication manager for Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
Cognizant has submitted paperwork to bring on 60 visa workers or more, a proposal that the state isn't aware of, Jakubek said.
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