Paul Krugman today makes an excellent point: the parts of Obamacare that are upsetting people right now are pretty much what would have to be imposed on Medicare if Obamacare's right-wing critics get their way.
... look at the constant demands that we make Medicare ... both more complicated and worse. There are demands for means-testing, which would involve collecting all the personal information Obamacare needs but Medicare doesn't. There is pressure to raise the Medicare age, forcing 65- and 66-year-old Americans to deal with private insurers instead.Krugman explains what right-wingers are thinking -- but I don't think this is the full explanation:
And Republicans still dream of dismantling Medicare as we know it, instead giving seniors vouchers to buy private insurance. In effect, although they never say this, they want to convert Medicare into Obamacare.
... the assault on Medicare is really about an ideology that is fundamentally hostile to the notion of the government helping people, and tries to make whatever help is given as limited and indirect as possible, restricting its scope and running it through private corporations. And this ideology, at a fundamental level -- more fundamental, even, than vested interests -- is why Obamacare ended up being a big kludge.That's true, but it's a partial explanation. Another reason right-wingers want to voucherize and means-test Medicare is that if we accept these changes, eventually it will be possible to categorize Medicare recipients as "takers," which is how the right gets its base to hate recipients of welfare, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance. (Right-wingers who are beneficiaries of these programs themselves are given the impression that some other group of people gets the really good benefits.) And if we have Medicare vouchers that are insufficient for keep many people, that coverage gap will be their fault too, because they didn't arrange their lives in such a way as to avoid being old and poor and sick.
This is how conservative propagandists keep the right-wing base angry and hateful: by preaching a secular version of the fundamentalist idea that the world is divided into the saved and the damned, the latter group being easily identified by their shameful way of life and sinful deeds. Refusing to means-test Medicare and Social Security thwarts the right's ability to attack the programs this way -- for now, at least. The changes right-wingers want would make the programs much easier pickings for right-wing pseudo-fundamentalist demagogues.