Posts Tagged ‘Upper Peninsula Health Plan’

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

Brand Evolution of Upper Peninsula Health Plan
Posted on July 12, 2016


MARQUETTE – Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) opened its doors for business on August 1, 1998, managing the health care of 1,900 Upper Peninsula residents serving Medicaid and MIChild beneficiaries. The health plan’s partners were a combined 300 hospitals, clinics, and medical providers throughout the Upper Peninsula. Since then, the health plan has grown significantly. Enrollment has increased to more than 47,000 Upper Peninsula residents-15% of the population. Members get benefits from Michigan Medicaid, MIChild, Children Special Health Care Services, MI Health Link, and Medicare Advantage product lines. UPHP serves as the medical home for those members. The provider network has also grown, now including more than 900 hospitals, offices, and individual providers.

In 1998, the health plan was located on Coles Drive in Marquette and employed only a handful of staff. Today, UPHP has over 140 employees working in the following areas: Government Programs, Customer Service, and Transportation; Disease, Quality, and Pharmacy Management; Credentialing and Provider Relations; Finance; Information Systems; Business Development; Compliance; Marketing and Communications; and other operations. Beyond managed care, staff members regularly contribute time and resources to community and charitable events. Upper Peninsula Health Plan contributed over $100,000 in community and event sponsorships in 2015.

In 2002, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a rural health waiver for Medicaid managed care for the Upper Peninsula region, resulting in UPHP being awarded the sole Medicaid managed care contract in the Upper Peninsula. In 2013, a similar waiver was approved for the MIChild program (CHIP) resulting in UPHP being awarded the only MIChild contract in the UP.

In 2006, the National Committee for Quality Assurance accredited UPHP as a Medicaid managed-care organization. During its most recent accreditation review, NCQA awarded UPHP an accreditation status of Commendable “for service and clinical quality that meet or exceed NCQA’s rigorous requirements for consumer protection and quality improvement.” Upper Peninsula Health Plan (HMO) received an overall score of 4.5 out of 5 in NCQA’s Medicaid Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2015-2016.

The health plan continues to receive consistently good evaluations by the State of Michigan. U.S. News and World Report has touted UPHP as one of America’s best health plans. Beyond the members served in managed care, thousands more Upper Peninsula residents get care from the UPHP network via employer benefits. UPHP serves as the hub for commercial, preferred provider organization (PPO) activity in the Upper Peninsula.

In 2011, UPHP began operating a Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan and they added a traditional Medicare Advantage product in 2014. The health plan received the Lake Superior Community Partnership’s 2011 Distinguished Service Award for a business that makes a strong contribution to the betterment of Marquette County.

As of March 2015, Upper Peninsula Health Plan began operating as an Integrated Care Organization through the MI Health Link (MHL) program. MHL is a care option for qualified members who are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. In the 2016 Guide to Michigan Medicaid Health Plans Quality Checkup, UPHP received the highest possible score for: Doctors Communication and Service, Getting Care, Keeping Kids Healthy, and Living with Illness (4 of 5 categories).

President and Chief Executive Officer, Dennis H. Smith, said that “sound business practices and dedicated directors and staff are key to UPHP’s ongoing success.” Smith added “the health plan’s growth would not be possible without a decade of consistent support from Upper Peninsula physicians, hospitals, health departments, and volunteers.”

The health plan plays a primary role in projects that address specific health concerns, collaborating with Local Health Departments, Upper Peninsula Diabetes Outreach Network, Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress, and Local Department of Human Services offices to name a few. For example, in response to a strong emphasis on addressing social determinants of health by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, UPHP has implemented a telephonic pilot project, Connected Communities for Health (CC4h) helpdesk, to address the basic resource needs of our members and connect them with the resources that exist within their own communities across the Upper Peninsula.

In January of 2016, UPHP began a rebranding project to coincide with a physical relocation to a new building at Liberty Way on Washington Street in Marquette. The brand shift precedes the upcoming transition into a state of the art headquarters. The image below is an architectural rendering of the UPHP home which is estimated to be complete in October 2016.

New Building Signage

The new logo (shown below) illustrates the important role UPHP plays in health care in the Upper Peninsula.


The two ribbons coming together around the silhouette of the U.P. to form the flag in the logo are strategically used as a metaphor to represent our commitment to members, and our partnership with providers, to provide access to resources to improve the health of those whose care we manage. The implied motion of the flag symbolizes our mission to constantly advance our delivery of high-quality, innovative, and cost-effective health care services to the Upper Peninsula employers and residents while maintaining the integrity of our regional health care system.

“It is an exciting time for Upper Peninsula Health Plan as we transition to a new, state of the art building that will allow us to continue to provide excellent service to our members, while improving the avenues to do so for our staff,” said Smith. “We will be hosting a Business After Hours at our new facility in November. We encourage the public to come out and learn more about UPHP and the services we provide to Upper Peninsula residents.”

For a printable version of this press release and contact information, click here: Brand Evolution of UPHP.