CMS Official: Medicaid is ICD-10-Ready

IMAG1559Despite rumors to the contrary, Medicaid is, and has been, ready for the implementation of ICD-10, according to a federal Medicaid official who spoke Tuesday at AHIMA’s ICD-10-CM/PCS and CAC Summit, taking place this week in Washington, DC.

Despite audience hope of hearing news from a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services official on the ICD-10 delay next steps, Godwin Odia, PhD, NHA, RHIA, stayed strictly on message during his mid-morning presentation. Odia, CMS’ ICD-10 implementation lead for Medicaid, was apologetic about his agency’s tight-lipped policy when speaking at the summit.

“I am going to stick with my script and I’m not going out. You all know why,” Odia said, chuckling, in a nod to the legislation recently passed by Congress that delayed implementation of ICD-10 for at least one year. Attendees of the ICD-10 Summit have anxiously been awaiting word from CMS about whether a new deadline for implementation has been set.


Assumption Medicaid Not Ready an ‘Urban Myth’

Odia noted the slides for his presentation, “The State of Medicaid ICD-10 Readiness,” were actually approved by CMS one month before the delay—or as he called it, “the Congressional action”—was announced. Throughout his presentation, Odia outlined the steps his agency has taken to ensure that state Medicaid associations were ready for ICD-10 implementation and testing.

He also attempted to debunk what one audience member suggested is an “urban myth” that state Medicaid offices aren’t ready for implementation or testing with providers. He also clarified that since Medicaid is a joint state-federal run program, states have to invite him to be a part of preparation efforts—he can’t visit state offices without being asked.

“Providers are saying Medicaid is not ready. When I travel to states, they said providers are not ready. Medicaid is ready,” Odia assured.


Encouragement for Providers

Although Odia was very limited in what he was able to comment on with regard to the ICD-10 delay, he said he’s heartened when he gets e-mails from state Medicaid offices that want to implement ICD-10 with or without the approval from Congress or CMS—however little chance there is of that happening.

“So many states wrote me angrily asking if they can implement anyway. So when my boss held a high-level meeting, I said, ‘I think it’s a badge of honor if implementation isn’t 2014, and states are saying they can implement it anyway,” Odia said. “That means we are doing good work. So I find it troubling when people say Medicaid isn’t ready.”


HIM Called to Lead ICD-10 Forward

Godwin also added that he wants to see more health information management (HIM) professionals take the lead in ICD-10 implementation programs.

“When I travel across states, I don’t see too many HIM professionals leading the transition. They say ‘I didn’t think I could do it,’” Odia said. “I have been encouraging HIM to take the lead. They say ‘I’m not IT,’ or ‘I work as a data assistant.’ [But] you are the content expert.”

Odia sprinkled in humor throughout his presentation. Speaking shortly after a presentation by Steven Stack, MD, immediate past chair of the American Medical Association (AMA) Board of Trustees, Odia said, “I am always asked to speak after the AMA. They want to kill ICD-10 and I want to keep it alive.”



  1. What baffles me is that state Medicaid programs will not release their internal ICD-9-CM to ICD-10 crosswalks they will use to pay claims, evidenced by the California Medi-CAL website (which I cannot put a link to on this blog – look at their FAQs). Medicare supposedly will; why not Medicaid?

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  2. Our state is moving from DRG grouper version 13 – yes I typed it correctly – to APR-DRG version 30 this year effective 7/1/14. Also changing groupers for outpatient from APL to EAPGs. So, I hope they are ready on ICD-10 or all these changes within the next year will make a mess for hospitals.

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