By Robert Barron Staff Writer

A new plan for handling workplace injuries could save the city of Enid as much as $30,000 in medical costs.

Certified Workplace Medical Plan (CWMP) was created to ensure employees receive good medical care when they are injured on the job, said Sonya Key, Enid human resources manager.

The program also assists employers with managing care and eventually creating cost savings through CompChoice, a third-party administrator, she said.

"The goal is to get the employee rehabilitated and returned to work as soon as possible," she said.

CWMP has been part of state law for several years but was amended slightly with the workers' compensation reform act this year.

Enid workers' compensation costs vary each year, but in 2003 the city spent $800,000, including medical care, litigation expenses and the ultimate settlement of cases, Key said.

Workers' compensation is a large part of any business' operating budget, she said. The city is self-insured and funds come directly from the general fund, she said.

"We're looking at savings as high as 30 percent under the program. We may not see it the first year, but that is the goal," she said.

There are two ways to impact the costs, with managed care and aggressive light duty assignments, but the best way to lower costs is to prevent injuries, and Key said the city will begin a safety program with that in mind.

If an injury occurs, the employee is taken to whatever type of medical facility is necessary and third-party administrator Comp-Choice is contacted.

CompChoice balances the employer's and employee's rights and will mediate a worker's cases, according to the company Web site.

"They make sure all treatment is equal to protocol by a case manager. They also contact the employee to make sure there are no complications," Key said.

Case managers are registered nurses, she said.

The more serious an injury is the move heavily involved the case manager will be, Key said.

CompChoice does not charge an annual fee. Services are billed on a fee-for-service basis. CompChoice charges a percentage of medical savings achieved below the workers' comp fee schedule for network access, which includes access to selected doctors.

Case management services are on an hourly basis.

The city has entered into the contract for one year and will re-evaluate during the year, Key said. There is a 60-day termination notice.

"So far it's been promising. We have a good working relationship with CompChoice," she said.

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