IT Reshoring News

January 14, 2014

H1B Workers Hired to Work on State Healthcare Exchanges – What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Despite the fiasco, two states are turning to contractors with offshore operations and H1B workers to build their own healthcare exchanges. Why would they do this?
In past Reshoring News, we discussed the website fiasco. Outsourcing web development for such a critical website struck us as a terrible idea for stability—and we were not alone.

Now it seems the states are going down the same road. reports on some states using offshore IT providers and H1B workers to build their own healthcare exchanges.

The District of Columbia awarded Infosys, an India-based IT services provider, a contract to develop their exchange and revamp their Medicaid systems. Illinois contracted Cognizant for similar development work.

Infosys is widely known for abusing the H1B visa system. They filed more than 140 LCAs (Labor Condition Applications, part of the H1B approval process) for District of Columbia projects in 2013.

Cognizant wants to hire 60 H1B visa holders to work on the D.C. systems. When asked about their own LCA applications, Cognizant stated that “the shortage of qualified talent in many parts of the U.S.” justified their choice.

These two companies receive thousands of H1B visas every year.

U.S. unemployment has not gone down. In fact, Illinois has one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation – 9.2%. Why are they contracting for H1B work from overseas?

Ron Hira, a public policy professor and researcher on tech immigration issues, has this to say:

"[Cognizant] is able to piggyback off of the false claims of a dire shortage of U.S. IT workers."

"[Hiring H1B workers] isn't due to a shortage of U.S. IT workers, but instead for the simple fact that those H-1B workers can be paid less than the market wage."

No argument here.

If more states proceed with contracting offshore labor for major projects, we’ll only see
  • Poorly-performing websites and related systems
  • More unemployed U.S. workers
Neither of these help the U.S. economy, OR our healthcare infrastructure. Something’s wrong with this picture.