Melania Trump calls on the ‘gift of nature’ to heal sick children

Meanwhile, her husband’s plan would strip health care from 13 million children.

First Lady Melania Trump listens to a toast by her husband Donald Trump while hosting the annual Governors’ Dinner February 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla
First Lady Melania Trump listens to a toast by her husband Donald Trump while hosting the annual Governors’ Dinner February 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla

First Lady Melania Trump paid a visit to Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, where she called on the power of nature to heal seriously ill children.

As her husband plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a move that could strip health care coverage from up to 13 million children, Melania Trump talked with patients and their families about “how the gift of nature and the beauties of the outdoors can contribute to the healing process,” according to the hospital.

“I am a passionate believer in integrating and interpreting nature’s elements into our daily lives to create a warm, nurturing and positive environment,” said Melania Trump, according to a statement released by the hospital. “I believe that these same natural benefits can be instrumental to enhancing the health and well-being of all children.”

During the visit, Trump visited a healing garden named for a D.C. philanthropist and planted Morning Glory seeds with sick children. The hospital did not mention any discussion of health care policies, but Kurt Newman, president of Children’s National Health System, said the hospital shares Trump’s “belief in the power of nature’s beauty to help kids heal and thrive.”

Children’s National has a long tradition of welcoming First Ladies, including Michelle Obama who visited most recently in December. On another trip in 2014, Obama met with the hospital’s infectious disease team that had been trained to treat Ebola patients after the U.S. government designated the hospital one of five pediatric centers to treat the disease.

Melania Trump’s visit came the day after her husband’s joint address to Congress in which a number of sick children, including Children’s National patient Jessica Gregory, sat alongside the First Lady. During his speech, President Trump pointed to college student Megan Crowley, who has Pompe disease, using her story to launch a misleading and disingenuous attack on the Food and Drug Administration. Using the wheelchair-bound woman as an example, Trump falsely claimed that cutting regulations would help speed up the drug development process.

President Trump also used his address to call on Congress “to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better health care.”

A report released in December found that a partial Obamacare repeal through reconciliation, as Republicans in Congress are planning now, would cause millions of children to lose health insurance.

“We find that 4.4 million children and 7.6 million parents could lose coverage in 2019 if Congress’s budget reconciliation process repeals pieces of the ACA without a replacement plan,” researchers at the Urban Institute wrote in a report released Wednesday called “Partial Repeal of the ACA through Reconciliation: Coverage Implications for Parents and Children.”

If states were to also lower the eligibility for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs to the minimum levels, an additional 9 million more children could lose coverage, according to the report.

Melania Trump has not weighed in on the health care conversation. So far as first lady, she has indicated that she will keep Michelle Obama’s signature vegetable garden, but has otherwise been absent from Washington.

During the campaign, she said in an interview that as First Lady, she would dedicate herself to combating bullying on the internet.