The C in SCHIP stands for children, and I want to make sure that the really needy ones aren't left behind. A good reauthorization bill will first require states to find and enroll 90 percent of the kids under 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level before they go looking for more people with higher incomes.

Pregnant women should be the only grown-ups on SCHIP; Medicaid-eligible adults need to be on Medicaid. And individual states should be free to spend their own money however they like, but federal taxpayers in 49 states shouldn’t be made to subsidize the insurance premiums for New Yorkers making $80,000 a year. Finally, I'd like to preserve the requirement for documenting the citizenship and identity of applicants. Just knowing how to write down a Social Security number doesn't make you an American.

House Democrats have different ideas, starting with some novel ones about how a bill becomes law. Private drafting, nighttime document dumps, quickie Rules Committee meetings, no amendments allowed ... the Democratic leadership keeps having a problem with democracy.

A compromise children's health bill -- written in public, seriously debated and honestly passed -- would make sense to poor kids, their families and nearly everybody outside the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Some real bipartisanship would do the job, and I'd call the president and urge him to sign it.