Why do Socialists (including the Left) hate this phrase so much?
More specifically, why do they accuse anyone who uses it of spouting "empty rhetoric?" As if the words don't have any meaning beyond their political history?
The phrase was coined by the AMA back in the '30s when it opposed Medicare. The AMA was a very strong opponent of Medicare, and (rightly) associated the program with Socialism. Socialism was, itself, deeply reviled at the time, sometimes for less than legitimate reasons (see, e.g., those godless commies).
For some reason, modern Leftists (who are really Socialists, all) fly into a spitting fury if you call them Socialists or refer to "socialized" anything. Why? If the shoe fits. . .
Just because the term "socialized medicine" originated from and was used in a particular political context doesn't mean that the words don't have meaning. They aren't empty rhetoric. When I say "socialized medicine," I don't mean some Soviet plot to taint our precious bodily fluids. I mean "a medical sector that has been socialized." Why is this so hard for some to understand?