Posts for UPHP News

Dennis Smith Announces Retirement from UPHP
Posted on December 19, 2017

MARQUETTE- Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) President and CEO, Dennis Smith, has announced his retirement after 15 years with UPHP. In July 2018, he will be succeeded as CEO by Melissa Holmquist, currently Chief Operations Officer at UPHP.

A native of Ann Arbor, Dennis Smith has been the CEO of UPHP since April 2003. In addition to his duties as the CEO of UPHP, Smith also serves as the President and CEO of Upper Peninsula Health Group and the Executive Director of Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions. Before joining UPHP, he was Senior Director of Michigan Health & Hospital Association for 15 years. In addition to his day job, Dennis also serves as Lake Superior Community Partnership Board Chair, Treasurer of Medicaid Health Plans of America, Brownfield Redevelopment Commission, and Treasurer of InvestUP, and past Board President of the Michigan Association of Health Plans.

UPHP Management Committee Chairman and CEO of UP Health System – Marquette, Brian Sinotte, commented, “Dennis Smith has been the driving force at UPHP for more than a decade. On behalf of the Management Committee I thank him for his exceptional leadership. In addition to building UPHP into one of the nation’s best health plans, he has also contributed immeasurably to the health care community across the Upper Peninsula.”

UPHP was founded in 1998, with just 6 employees. Under Smith’s leadership the company has grown strongly and consistently and currently employees a staff of over 150.  Today, Upper Peninsula Health Plan serves over 47,000 members across five product lines (Michigan Medicaid, Children with Special Health Care Services, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage) and its network exceeds 1,500 providers.

“Managed Care was a new concept in 1998 when UPHP was started and I must thank our Management Committee for their foresight and support in all of UPHP’s efforts. I do not imagine that anyone in 1998 would have dreamed that UPHP would be the company it is today,” said Dennis Smith. “As we approach our 20th anniversary, I know UPHP is well set for the future. I believe that now is the right time for me to step down and pass the baton on to Melissa. I believe UPHP has a tremendous opportunity to build on our history. There are exciting choices for the new generation of leaders to make.”

Melissa Holmquist is a native of Crystal Falls and a graduate of Northern Michigan University. She has been with UPHP for 15 years, working in numerous departments, and holding positions such as Director of Government Programs and her current position of Chief Operations Officer. “Melissa has an outstanding strategic and operational track record at UPHP and is highly revered by her colleagues,” said Sinotte. “Along with a recommendation from Dennis, the Management Committee was in unanimous agreement of her appointment as CEO.”

Holmquist was named UPHP Employee of the Quarter in 2002, 2006, and 2010 when she was also voted Employee of the Year in 2010. She is a Data & Research Committee member for the Institute of Medicaid Innovation, a Board of Directors Alternate for the Medicaid Health Plans of America, Government Programs Committee Member for the Michigan Association of Health Plans, and a Board Member on the Marquette County Economics Club.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with and learn from Dennis during my tenure at UPHP,” Holmquist said. “I look forward to building on his excellent foundations to drive the health plan through its next phase of development and create further value for our members.”

Please join us in extending best wishes to Dennis Smith in his retirement.

About UPHP

Upper Peninsula Health Plan currently serves over 47,000 members across five product lines (Michigan Medicaid, Children with Special Health Care Services, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage) and its network exceeds 1,500 providers. Learn more at

UPHP Top Scoring Medicare-Medicaid Plan in Nation 
Posted on December 14, 2017

MARQUETTE – The Integrated Care Resource Center announced on Wednesday, December 13th that Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) tied for first place in the nation for overall rating of a Medicare-Medicaid Plan (MMP). UPHP was approved by the State of Michigan and the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) to provide the services of a dual eligible program called MI Health Link. The advantage of the MI Health Link program is to make member’s Medicare and Michigan Medicaid benefits work better together. MI Health Link members use one plan and one card for health care, behavioral health care, home and community based services, nursing home care, and medications.

Under the Medicare-Medicaid Financial Alignment Initiative, CMS measures consumer experience in multiple ways, including through beneficiary surveys such as the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey. Under the capitated financial alignment model, Medicare-Medicaid Plans (MMPs) are required to annually conduct the Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) CAHPS survey. The MA-PD CAHPS survey is designed to measure important aspects of an individual’s health care experience including the accessibility to and quality of services.

As part of the MA-PD CAHPS survey, respondents are asked to rate their health plan on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst health plan possible and 10 is the best health plan possible. The scores below are the percentage of the best possible score each contract earned:

“We are thrilled that our members have positively rated our health plan to allow us this esteemed recognition. Managing the care for members who are dually enrolled in a Medicare-Medicaid Plan has its challenges. We do our best to keep our members satisfied with the services we provide, and it is wonderful to have their satisfaction reflected in the CAHPS score,” said UPHP President and CEO, Dennis Smith.

In order to report MA-PD CAHPS in a given year, health plans, including MMPs, must have a minimum of 600 enrollees as of July 1st of the preceding calendar year. In early 2017, surveys were sent to a sample of MMP enrollees with at least six months of continuous enrollment. Enrollees were asked to evaluate their health care experience over the previous six months. As a result, 45 MMPs participating in nine capitated model demonstrations were able to report CAHPS during the 2017 reporting cycle.

CMS anticipates making additional information regarding 2017 CAHPS results under the Medicare-Medicaid Financial Alignment Initiative available soon.

About UPHP

Upper Peninsula Health Plan currently serves over 47,000 members across five product lines (Michigan Medicaid, Children with Special Health Care Services, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage) and its network exceeds 1,500 providers. Learn more at

UPHCS Awarded $296,243 Michigan Health Endowment Fund Grant
Posted on November 08, 2017

MARQUETTE – Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions, Inc. (UPHCS) has been awarded a $296,243 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to expand the evidence based advance care planning program, Make a Plan, Share Plan. The grant monies will be used to improve access and availability of integrated services for all adults through collaboration with community-based organizations and health systems across the region.

The Make a Plan, Share a Plan advance care planning model, developed in partnership with Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) and Honoring Healthcare Choices–Michigan, is centered on honoring the dynamic and individualized needs of each adult. “An individual’s ability to maintain personal control and dignity during a health crisis supports patient-centered healthcare delivery,” said UPHP Advance Care Planning Program Manager, Kate LaBeau. The opportunity to expand and integrate    care delivery that is based on an individual’s goals, values, and beliefs will lead to improved health care across the region.

Make a Plan, Share a Plan expands training and educational opportunities of certified advance care planning facilitators, and partners with senior services throughout the Upper Peninsula to provide advance care planning services. This grant will also be used to train and utilize existing clinical and healthcare staff, such as care managers and community health    workers, to create a cost effective, integrated approach to meet the healthcare needs of the region’s adult population.

Make a Plan, Share a Plan will rely on innovative and cost-effective health information technology (HIT) to enable providers, across the state of Michigan, access to advance care planning documents in a common location. In addition, Kate LaBeau will also make additional efforts toward community engagement with local media partners and organizations. Look for coming opportunities to “Share Your Storywith others.

UPHCS thanks the Michigan Health Endowment Fund who works to improve the health and wellness of Michigan residents and reduce the cost of healthcare, with a special focus on children and seniors. More information about the Health Fund can be found at

Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves the 310,000 residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We are a network of community health care providers with a shared vision of working together to improve access, reduce cost, and promote quality health care services in the communities served by our members. Visit for more information.

UPHP Named 2017 Pinnacle Award Winner
Posted on September 30, 2017

MARQUETTE- The Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) was recently awarded the 2017 Pinnacle Award for the Community Outreach Collaborative category. UPHP staff were present to accept the award at the Michigan Association of Health Plans Foundation Annual Pinnacle Awards event held on September 19th in Lansing.

Connected Communities for Health (CC4H) was the initiative featured in UPHP’s winning application. CC4H aims to address UPHP members’ social determinants of health in collaboration with community, state, faith-based and other non-traditional health care network partners to fulfill their resource needs. Since program implementation in June 2016, UPHP has screened 426 members for social needs and 36 percent of those members indicated existing needs with 81 percent accepting enrollment into the CC4H program.
UPHP’s submission was one of 34 ground-breaking programs submitted by health plans from across the state, all of which are leading the health care industry with innovative programs to improve patient health care, lower costs, and increase services to Michigan citizens. Full details on each winner are available at
Health plans submit new programs to a judging panel comprised of health care experts, lawmakers, and news media. The panel reviews submissions in depth before choosing winners in various categories for commercial health insurers and Medicaid health plans. Other winners were Physicians Health Plan, McLaren Health Plan, and Harbor Health.
“I am proud of our team’s implementation of this essential program for our members. It is truly a collaborative effort in our community to identify unmet needs and connect members to resources for food, housing, and transportation among other things,” said Dennis Smith, President and CEO of Upper Peninsula Health Plan. “It’s special to see a program like this be widely accepted and integrated into our community.”
MAHP shares the winning programs among members, helping them adopt best practices throughout the state’s health plans. UPHP is proud to be featured among the winners of the 2017 Pinnacle awards addressing issues from empowering staff to improve processes, to improving health care outcomes for pregnant mothers, to initiatives that address social determinants of health.
About UPHP
Upper Peninsula Health Plan currently serves over 47,000 members across five product lines (Michigan Medicaid, Children with Special Health Care Services, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage) and its network exceeds 1,500 providers. Learn more at
2017 Community Benefit Report
Posted on September 30, 2017

The flipbook linked below is UPHP’s 2017 Community Benefit Report. It embodies Upper Peninsula Health Plan’s mission and values, product lines, and contributions to the communities we serve through various initiatives. Our economic impact is largely noted in claims paid and corporate sponsorships; however, we take great pride in our commitment to volunteering and community involvement. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into our company!


UPHP Names Steve Heikkinen Employee of the Year
Posted on May 17, 2017

Marquette, MI – Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) proudly names Steve Heikkinen 2016 Employee of the Year. Each year, UPHP names an Employee of the Year from a pool of Employee of the Quarter and “Caught ‘Cha” candidates. Each Employee of the Quarter is nominated by their manager. The nominees are then reviewed and a winner is selected by the Senior Management team. UPHP employees also participate in a peer recognition program called “Caught ‘Cha”. This is an employee driven, incentive program in which all employees can write a “Caught ‘Cha” note and give it to someone they caught doing something great. Along with each Employee of the Quarter, the two highest “Caught ‘Cha” recipients each year are entered as candidates in a company-wide vote for Employee of the Year.

“I feel honored to have been voted Employee of the Year by my peers. I truly enjoy my job and am grateful to have the opportunity to utilize my skill-set and education as Facilities Coordinator. Diving into construction drawings and coordinating with vendors to maintain and improve the efficiency of our building is very rewarding,” said Steve.

Steve Heikkinen was born and raised in Negaunee, Michigan. He has a B.S. in Psychology from Northern Michigan University and a B.S. in Land Surveying from Michigan Technological University. Before joining UPHP, Steve previously worked at Engineering Consultants in Ishpeming for 17 years and at WLUC TV6 as a Production Manager for 17 years.

In November 2014, Steve began his career at UPHP as a Transportation Coordinator. In 2016, UPHP moved into a new 28,000 square foot building and Steve filled a new position, Facilities Coordinator. Steve was an essential part of the planning, construction, and successful move of UPHP’s staff to their new home at Liberty Way.

Steve’s supervisor, Melissa Holmquist, attributes his success in large part to his work ethic. “Steve is self-motivated, has a positive attitude, and successfully juggles multiple projects simultaneously. He is a true asset to UPHP,” said Holmquist, Chief Operations Officer.

“Steve stands out thanks to his tireless devotion to his job. His responsiveness to the needs of UPHP staff is commendable. He communicates issues that do arise efficiently and offers solutions to make sure everyone is on the same page,” said Dennis Smith, UPHP President and CEO.

About UPHP

Upper Peninsula Health Plan currently serves over 47,000 members across five product lines (Michigan Medicaid, Children with Special Health Care Services, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage) and its network exceeds 900 providers. Learn more at

UPHP Featured on The Ryan Report
Posted on April 27, 2017

UPHP President and CEO, Dennis Smith, sat down with Don Ryan for WLUC’s Sunday morning program, The Ryan Report. Click here to watch the 30 minute interview.

UPHP Names Leslie Luke Chief Financial Officer
Posted on April 10, 2017

MARQUETTE — Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) President and CEO, Dennis Smith, announces Leslie Luke as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Luke, a Certified Public Accountant, has been promoted internally from her current position of Controller which she assumed in 2015. UPHP, a managed care organization providing Medicaid and Medicare services to members in the Upper Peninsula, has grown rapidly since 2015, adding new product lines like MI Health Link and increasing its Medicare Advantage membership.

Chief Financial Officer will be the second position that Leslie Luke has held within the company, but she has a long history of work experience in healthcare financial management. Before joining UPHP, Luke worked as the Chief Financial Officer at NorthCare Network and was the Director of Finance at Marquette General Hospital. “I knew when I joined Upper Peninsula Health Plan’s staff that I would have an opportunity to add value for our members and I look forward to continuing to grow with our company in my new position,” said Luke.

In her role as CFO, Leslie Luke will report to Dennis Smith and serve as a member of the Senior Management team. She succeeds Regina Bergh who has accepted the Chief Financial Officer position at Sanford Health Plan in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Luke’s vast experience working for NorthCare Network, Marquette General, and most recently UPHP, will guide her well as Chief Financial Officer. “Leslie’s deep knowledge of UPHP and her financial acumen make her highly qualified to take on the CFO role” noted Smith. “Her track record in financial leadership and health care experience demonstrate her ability to apply her extensive financial expertise to help an organization succeed.”

Leslie lives in Negaunee with her husband, Matt, and three sons: Colin, Ben, and William.

About UPHP

Upper Peninsula Health Plan currently serves over 47,000 members across five product lines (Michigan Medicaid, Children with Special Health Care Services, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage) and its network exceeds 900 providers. Learn more at


UPHCS to Hold Annual Trustee Forum
Posted on March 31, 2017

MARQUETTE – Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions (UPHCS) will hold their annual Trustee Forum on April 7th and 8th at the Holiday Inn in Marquette, Michigan. The speaker presentations will begin on Friday afternoon focused on health care reform. Senator Tom Casperson, State Representative Scott Dianda, and State Representative John Kivela will participate in the legislative panel to conclude the evening. Saturday morning will feature a joint commission speaker on high reliability organizations.

Below is a list of the scheduled speakers and their presentation topics:

Ken Leonczyk, Jr.

The Advisory Board Company, Senior Director and International Spokesperson

Topic: State of the Union: Health Care Reform Beyond the ACA

In his role for the Advisory Board Company, Ken advises health systems and health care industry companies on the strategic implications of health care reform, financing, and performance management. His presentation will give his expert perspective on how changes in health care will affect our region.

Brian E. Peters, MHSA, FNCHL

Michigan Health & Hospital Association, Chief Executive Officer

Presentation Topic: MHA Update

Prior to becoming the CEO for MHA, Brian held the role of Executive Vice President where he oversaw strategic planning and operations for one of the nation’s largest state hospital organizations and was responsible for the alignment of business strategies among the association’s various corporate entities. His presentation will offer insight on the future of healthcare in Michigan.

Coleen A. Smith, RN, MBA, CPHQ, CPPS

Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, Director of High Reliability Initiatives

Presentation Topic: High Reliability Organizations

As the Director of High Reliability Initiatives for the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, Coleen is responsible for the development, coordination and implementation of activities supporting the adoption of high reliability practices in health care. Her presentation will provide her expert tips on how to become a highly reliable organization.

There will be an opportunity for media interviews on-site. For questions regarding the conference or to schedule media interviews, contact Carly Harrington, UPHP Corporate Communications Manager, at


Dennis Smith Appointed Member of Brownfield Redevelopment Authority
Posted on March 14, 2017


Upper Peninsula Health Plan President and CEO, Dennis Smith, has been appointed as a member of the City of Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. He will be sworn in at the next City Commission meeting on March 13th at 6:00 pm held in Commission Chambers at City Hall.

The City of Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (MBRA) was established by the City Commission on September 8, 1997. Brownfields are defined as properties that are contaminated, blighted, functionally obsolete, and can include historic properties. The authority has actively redeveloped sites such as the location of the new UP Health System-Marquette hospital, the new Upper Peninsula Health Plan building, and the Staybridge Suites.

“Communities like Marquette are fortunate to be one of the beneficiaries of such a forward thinking proactive agency like the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority”, said Smith. “I look forward to helping redevelop brownfield sites to attract new and expanding businesses to our area.”

Smith is joining the following current City of Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority members: Robert Berube, Daniel Torres, Rich Rossway (Vice Chair), Terry Szczepanski, Kellie Holmstrom (Chair), and Mary Schlicht (Treasurer, Ex Officio).

About UPHP

Upper Peninsula Health Plan currently serves over 47,000 members across four product lines (Michigan Medicaid, Healthy Michigan Plan, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage) and its network exceeds 900 providers. Learn more at