Tuesday, OSF Healthcare, which includes Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, announced that beginning in 2018, they will no longer be part of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Preferred Provider Organization, or PPO.

According to a release issued by OSF Healthcare on Tuesday, Illinoisans with Blue Cross and Blue Shield PPO plans will only be able to access care at hospitals owned by OSF Healthcare using out-of-network benefits.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is shaking up its network in the Peoria region.

The changes go into effect on January 1, 2018.

“OSF Healthcare is an accountable care organization committed to population health, which is achieved through ensuring patientshave access to the full resources of its integrated health care delivery system”, said Randy Billings, OSF HealthCare senior vice president of population health. The one exception is Saint Anthony’s Health Center, located in Alton, which will remain in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois PPO network.

“We are disappointed and concerned about the decision by BCBSIL”, OSF said.

OSF HealthCare reminds patients that the hospitals are still part of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois PPO plans through December 31, 2017. “OSF is here and always willing to discuss any opportunity”.

“All of OSF HealthCare is participating in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield PPO network through the end of 2017”, OSF clarified.

By removing these hospitals from its network, Blue Cross eliminated referral centers and access to critical care, reducing OSF’s ability to care for the sickest patients, OSF said.

Individuals who wish to switch to new plans for 2018 may do so during health insurance open enrollment this fall.

Advocate Health Care hospitals in Central Illinois are not affected.

In a statement, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of IL said it was committed to “our members, our group customers, as well as the communities we serve”.

Peoria-based OSF Healthcare says on its website that it will no longer be a part of Blue Cross-Blue Shield as of January first, and that goes for nearly all of its hospitals, including Saint Mary’s in Galesburg and Holy Family in Monmouth.

Providers from OSF HealthCare Medical Group, OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute, OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute and other OSF ancillary services are unaffected at this time, OSF said. “However, it was necessary under the existing contracts that 90-day notice be given”.

The change affects all OSF hospitals in IL, except Saint Anthony’s Health Center.