By ASHLEY COKER

Healthcare has been a hot button issue in American politics for years, and the debate goes far beyond democrat versus republican.

One of President Donald Trump’s signature campaign promises was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) and to do so fast. Trump is now 265 days into his presidency, and so far, multiple healthcare reform bills have failed to pass a senate vote.

Wait! I thought republicans controlled the senate. Why has this taken so long?

Even a republican-controlled senate cannot agree on what healthcare in America should look like, with some calling replacement efforts too radical and others believing they aren’t radical enough.

When a “repeal only” bill was proposed in July, the divided senate axed that too. The bill would have cut several key aspects of the Affordable Care Act, without providing a replacement. Seven republican senators said that was a no go, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

So. . .What is Trump’s move?

Trump has made it clear that he is not pleased with the senate’s inability to agree on a healthcare bill.

The president signed an executive order Thursday that aims to allow both individuals and small business owners to purchase cheaper insurance plans with fewer benefits.

The order increases the amount of time people can stay on short-term insurance plans, which traditionally offer bare-bones coverage for those between jobs. These plans are exempt from Affordable Care Act regulations.

Trump said his executive order will move the country “toward lower costs and more options in the health care market,” predicting that “millions and millions” of people will benefit from the order.

While the order makes insurance more affordable for healthy people with minimal medical needs, many , including the American Academy of Family Physicians, voiced concern about how the order may affect both sicker patients and women, who tend to have more healthcare needs.

These groups are concerned this order will draw young, healthy Americans away from the healthcare exchange, causing premiums to rise for the older, sicker people who remain.

What does this mean for the Affordable Care Act?

Trump’s executive order is unlikely to have an immediate impact because it has not yet been fully developed.

This means people are expected to be able to enroll in 2018 insurance plans as per usual. Open enrollment in the exchange is still scheduled to begin Nov. 1, and buyers should not notice any major changes this year.

The effect the order will have on healthcare in 2019 will likely be significant, but it is impossible to predict exactly how much plans and premiums will change.

Of course, all of this could be irrelevant next month when everything changes again.