Pass the Affordable Care Act, and for seven years, Americans tell pollsters they do not like it. Threaten to take away the ACA, and Americans tell pollsters, in effect, “How dare you take away the ACA!” Are people fickle, contrarian? Perhaps, but they are also deeply risk averse when it comes to their health and that of their family. Therein rests a cautionary tale for Republicans bent on repealing Obamacare.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds, “As President Trump and Congress weigh repealing the Affordable Care Act, the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds more Americans viewing the law favorably than unfavorably (48% compared to 42%). This is the highest level of favorability measured in more than 60 Kaiser Health Tracking Polls conducted since 2010.”

There are partisan differences, but agreement on one major issue:

[Independents] now are more likely to view the law favorably (50%) than unfavorably (39%). Most Democrats (73%) continue to view the law favorably while most Republicans (74%) view it unfavorably.
In spite of these more favorable views, the public remains divided along partisan lines on whether Congress should (47%) or should not (48%) repeal the law. At the same time, more of those who favor repeal want lawmakers to wait until the details of a replacement plan are known (28% overall) than want Congress to repeal immediately and work out the replacement’s details later (18% overall).
Even among Republicans, while the majority want to see Congress vote to repeal the law – fewer want them to vote to repeal the law immediately (31%) than want them to wait until they have the details of a replacement plan announced (48%), and 16 percent of Republicans do not want the law repealed at all.

Take that in for a moment. More than 60 percent of Republicans either don’t want it repealed or want the details of the new plan first. As Congress races to repeal the ACA with only the sketchiest idea about a replacement, Republicans are running against public opinion even in their own party. If we remember where we started — people are risk averse — it should come as no surprise that “nearly half (48%) of the public says they worry that they or someone in their family will lose their health insurance if the law is repealed and replaced.”

Moreover, Republicans’ Medicaid ideas are deeply unpopular with all Americans:

The vast majority (84%) say it is either “very” or “somewhat” important for any replacement plan to ensure that states that received federal funds to expand Medicaid continue to receive those funds. This includes majorities of Democrats (95%) independents (84%) and Republicans (69%).
The vast majority (87%) of residents in the 16 states that expanded their Medicaid programs that now have Republican governors say it is important to continue to receive those funds – similar to the share in expansion states with Democratic or independent governors (85%) and more than in states that chose not to expand their Medicaid programs (80%).

Nor do Americans like the idea of capping Medicaid. (“When asked to choose, two-thirds (66%) of the public prefers the status quo compared to about one third (31%) who favor the per-capita cap approach, which would limit federal funding on a per-person basis while giving states more flexibility over who and what services to cover. Similarly, more favor the status quo (63%) over a shift to Medicaid block grants (32%) that would limit federal funding while giving states greater control over who and what to cover under Medicaid.”) Again, Republicans seeking to upend Medicaid should be wary of a public backlash.

Republicans have become so convinced Obamacare is a plague — not merely flawed or inadequate but affirmatively bad (Vice President Pence called it a “nightmare” at CPAC on Thursday) — that they’ve lost track of Americans’ attachment to the new status quo. They should proceed cautiously, grandfather in those on expanded Medicaid, spell out a replacement before repealing and understand that they better come up with something much better than the ACA, or they are likely to face in 2018 the same kind of wave election Democrats faced in 2010.