Federal budget cuts will gouge more than $47 million from ACT health funding from July, which could pay for 2850 elective surgeries, 390 nurses, staff for 135 acute hospital beds or 33 intensive care beds, Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says.
The ACT government estimates the cuts will rip about $240 million from health funding to the ACT community over the next four years.
Figures to be released by the ACT government on Wednesday show the federal government is expected to cut its payments to the ACT by $47 million from July.
Ms Gallagher said the cuts were another massive hit to the ACT budget's bottom line and had come without warning.
Government will continue to oppose the cuts and seek a fair outcome from the Commonwealth government,'' she said. "Canberrans have a right to be treated the same as every other Australian and there is no doubt this budget targets Canberra unlike any other city in the country."
"The Abbott government has unilaterally walked away from key commitments contained in the current National Health Reform Agreement, which was signed in good faith in 2011 and included commitments to funding guarantees, indexation and payment for interstate patients treated in our hospitals."
Ms Gallagher said the cuts came on top of other reductions in payments from the Commonwealth and the downward revision of the ACT government's own revenue expectations following the significant job losses included in the federal budget.
She said the ACT's health system had been thrown into "further turmoil" with the introduction of the $7 co-payment for doctor's visits and other tests, increases to the co-payment for medicines, and the uncertain future facing ACT Medicare Local.
Outgoing Australian Medical Association ACT president Andrew Miller said the cuts to public hospital funding were a real concern. "It's really serious - you can't run a health system properly if it's underfunded," he said.
"We've already got Canberra Hospital operating at full capacity, if they cut funding from that, there are only two possibilities: one is that the ACT is going to have to raise more revenue to match that funding loss; the other is that services are going to have to be cut.
"You may be able to make some efficiencies within the hospital, but inevitably there's going to have to be people looking long and hard at what they do in terms of the services that they provide.''
Local doctors, such as Kambah GP Suzanne Davey, are concerned about changes announced in the budget.
She said the $7 co-payment was based on a "false premise" that it would reduce visits to a doctor. "
"There's no way that I'm going to be able to get someone in a nursing home to pay $7 ... so my income will [be reduced].
"It's not going to affect my behaviour at all. We're a private practice but I bulk bill between 30 and 40 per cent of people because they are disadvantaged in some way and I bulk bill people who don't have healthcare cards for various reasons, and my style of medicine, I spend as long with people as it takes - that style of medicine will not change and I expect my income will go down.
"In the long run, practices have to run and I suppose the people who do pay will end up subsidising those who can't, and they're being punished as well because they're being penalised because they will get a $5 less rebate."
Dr Davey said it would be a great administrative burden for doctors to have to be "a tax collector" and collect the $7 co-payment.
"I really support the idea of Medicare as a safety net for people and I'm very disappointed that it's being disbanded," she said.