Posts for UPHP News

UPHP Launches Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures Campaign
Posted on July 05, 2018

Marquette, MI – (Great Lakes Radio) – “Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures” is a joint effort between Upper Peninsula Health Plan and Upper Peninsula Health Group designed to highlight the importance of annual preventative care for kids of all ages.

UPHP Clinical Coordinator Chris Rhoades joined the Sunny Morning Show today to share some of the highlights of this initiative.

Rhoades said UPHP is teaming up with roughly 25 different primary care practices across the U.P. and promoting the campaign throughout the Upper Peninsula.

He said the overall goal is to make sure area children get the regular health care they need for a healthy future.

Rhoades said it runs through August 31st and there will be prizes for the provider practices that can get the most kids through the door as well as drawings for the kids who go in and get the care they need.

LISTEN IN – UPHP Clinical Coordinator Chris Rhoades with more about the “Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures” initiative.

This story was originally posted here by Great Lakes Radio, Inc. on July 3, 2018.

Upper Peninsula Health Plan Sees Changes At The Top
Posted on June 16, 2018

Melissa Holmquist and Dennis Smith of UPHP

Marquette, MI – (Great Lakes Radio News) – Transitions are happening in the leadership at the Upper Peninsula Health Plan organization.

Long-time Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) President and CEO Dennis Smith announced his retirement, effective July 1st, late last year, and as a result, COO Melissa Holmquist was named as Smith’s successor.

Smith and Holmquist both joined the Sunny Morning Show on June 5th to talk about the transition that is underway at the Marquette-based agency.

Smith talked about several of the key successes that have happened under his watch, including steady and consistent growth, and productive alliances in the U.P. health care landscape that have been facilitated by UPHP.

Holmquist shared some of her background with UPHP and what she hopes to see in the future of the group as she takes over the reins.

LISTEN IN – Retiring CEO Dennis Smith and incoming CEO Melissa Holmquist talk transitions.

This story was originally posted here by Great Lakes Radio Inc.

UPHP Names Melanie Bicigo Chief Operating Officer
Posted on June 05, 2018

MARQUETTE – Upper Peninsula Health Plan announces Melanie Bicigo as Chief Operating Officer. Long-time Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) President and CEO Dennis Smith announced his retirement (effective July 1st) late last year, starting a waterfall of opportunity at UPHP. Melissa Holmquist was named Smith’s successor as CEO, leaving the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) vacant. With extensive health plan experience, Melanie Bicigo brings invaluable knowledge and leadership to the COO position.

A native of Crystal Falls, Bicigo is a Northern Michigan University alumna. Chief Operating Officer will be the ninth position Melanie Bicigo has held within the company in her 16-year tenure. Most recently, she has served as the Compliance and Risk Management Officer responsible for execution and oversight of UPHP’s corporate compliance program and managing risk exposure. Bicigo implemented initiatives to match the health care regulatory environment and achieve organizational compliance. In her role as COO, Melanie Bicigo will report to the newly appointed President and CEO of Upper Peninsula Health Plan, Melissa Holmquist. She will now oversee the following departments: Government Programs, Physician Services, Credentialing, Customer Services, and Reception. “I am honored to have been offered this opportunity and to be part of the new leadership at the Upper Peninsula Health Plan,” said Bicigo.

With over fifteen years experience in various departments at UPHP, Melanie Bicigo has the experience and institutional knowledge to excel in this new position. Bicigo was the first full time Compliance Officer and built that department from scratch. Her attention to detail and focus on process improvement will be valuable assets to her as Chief Operating Officer. “Melanie brings a wealth of experience in Compliance, Claims, and Enrollment to the Chief Operating Officer position. She has served as an instrumental member of the Senior Management team for the past five years and is uniquely qualified to help UPHP deliver coordinated, high-quality care,” noted Holmquist.

UPHP Can Help With Transportation to Medical Appointments
Posted on May 04, 2018

Marquette, MI – (Great Lakes Radio) – For many Upper Peninsula Health Plan enrolled members, transportation assistance is essential to connect them with the care they need. Without it, they possibly would not receive necessary medical care to prevent future illness.

Mandie Haile, UPHP Transportation Coordinator, joined the SUNNY Morning Show today to talk about how the services help with non-emergent medical transportation assistance to medical appointments for enrolled members.

Haile explained that the assistance is provided through direct mileage reimbursement, local bus and taxi services or volunteer drivers as needed.

She said to find out more about how this specialized assistance helps UPHP enrolled members, contact the UPHP Transportation Department direct by dialing 1-800-835-2556 and follow the prompts to reach the department.

Haile added that UPHP also has an online tool to request transportation assistance which is located at the UPHP website at

LISTEN IN – Mandie Haile, UPHP Transportation Coordinator, with more about transportation services.


UPHP Names Jennifer Schon Employee of the Year
Posted on April 26, 2018

Marquette, MI – Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) proudly names Jennifer Schon 2017 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 or a member of the Senior Management team. 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. To be elected amongst this group of excellent employees is unbelievable! I am truly grateful,” said Schon.

Jennifer Schon grew up in Fenwick, Michigan. Her parents purchased a resort on the Au Train Lake when she was in college and she chose to attend Northern Michigan University where she earned a B.S. in Clinical Health Science. Jen has worked at Upper Peninsula Health Plan for nearly four years. She was hired as a Customer Service Representative and eagerly learned as much as she could about all UPHP product lines. She is now a member of the Human Resources team at UPHP, currently holding the position of Human Resource Generalist. Reflecting on her time with the company, Jen noted that above all the community fundraising events, company picnics, holiday parties, and employee celebrations, her favorite memory is her first day at UPHP. There is a culture here to go above and beyond to greet and help our new employees feel welcome. That is something that has stayed with her and that she tries to pay forward to new employees.

Jen’s supervisor, Tanya Jennings, attributes her success in large part to her work ethic. “Jen has become an invaluable asset to the HR department during her three years in HR. Her ability to learn quickly allowed her to grow her HR knowledge immensely and to position herself among UPHP managers and employees as a trusted and valuable resource for questions and concerns. Jen is extremely helpful to staff and will go the extra step to research a problem or issue and offer a potential solution when presented a new scenario. UPHP is fortunate to have Jen as an employee,” said Jennings, Director of Human Resources.

Jennifer and her husband, Brandon, live in Harvey with their 4-month-old son, Nolan, and their three dogs.

U.P. Perinatal Care Focus of Newly-Formed Collaborative Effort
Posted on April 04, 2018

Jessica Serman & Janey Joffee

Marquette, MI – (Great Lakes Radio News– The Upper Peninsula Health Plan and U.P. Health Care Solutions have partnered up to form a collaborative group addressing the health of mothers and their babies in Upper Michigan.

The Upper Peninsula Perinatal Collaborative was formed last July to make sure mothers and babies are healthy and thriving across the region.

Jessica Serman, Clinical Services Manager with the Case Management Department at UPHP, and Janey Joffee, Manager at U.P. Health Care Solutions, joined the SUNNY Morning Show with Walt & Mike today to share more information about this collaboration.

Joffee said there are a wide array of healthcare based stakeholders from across the region in the Collaborative.

Serman explained that the group is currently identifying a series of goals to improve birth outcomes for mothers and babies and to eliminate health disparities across the 15 counties in the U.P.

She added that Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and maternal opioid use have been identified as key priority areas in the Upper Peninsula.

Joffee said the Collaborative is looking to increase health and wellness education through the compilation, distribution and maintenance of resource directories targeted at mothers and families, health care providers, and service agencies across the U.P.

LISTEN IN – Jessica Serman and Janey Joffee discuss the Upper Peninsula Perinatal Collaborative.

CLICK HERE – For more information about the Upper Peninsula Perinatal Collaborative.

UPHCS Purchases New Wide-Bore Mobile MRI
Posted on April 02, 2018

MARQUETTE – Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions, Inc. is happy to announce that a mobile, wide-bore Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) will be coming to a hospital near you in April 2018. Two new GE Voyager MRI units will be shared among our partner hospitals in the Upper Peninsula, including: Aspirus Iron River Hospital, Aspirus Ironwood Hospital, Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital, Baraga County Memorial Hospital, Helen Newberry Joy Hospital, Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, and UP Health System – Bell.

Quality MRI images require that the patience lie completely still. This new MRI comes with a 70 cm bore, offering a more comfortable experience for patients— especially larger individuals, children, and those prone to claustrophobia. This next‐generation MRI helps reduce exam time and the improved patient comfort features result in a cooler, quieter experience while delivering both uncompromised image quality and high productivity. The 1.5 Tesla field strength is the industry’s best‐known and most‐widely used. Its bore diameter and field of view make MR scans accessible to more patients who need them.

The SIGNA Voyager delivers images with greater clarity and less noise to allow your physician to get a better look at your specific area of concern.  The systems also feature Acoustic Reduction Technology that delivers an enhanced patient experience by significantly reducing noise levels. Every part of this system design was based on making the experience easier for the patient including the softer table, softer coils for imaging, and a Newmatic MR Sound System to allow patients to listen to the music of their choice during the exam.

These highly advanced systems allow you to have the latest technology close to home. Please call your local hospital’s radiology department if you have specific questions or concerns.

Upper Peninsula Health Care Solutions (UPHCS) acts as the Central Service Coordinator for mobile MRI host site members, facilitating the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Certificate of Need (CON) for the Health Service Area. UPHCS also facilitates the equipment and service contracts with the MRI service provider on the network’s behalf. The UPHCS mobile MRI network provides an important service to its hospital members not able to sustain a fixed MRI unit in their facility due to volume and geographic location requirements set forth by Michigan CON Review Standards for MRI.

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.

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.