Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and an unusual group of Republicans and Democrats wrote an unusual letter Monday to two unusual recipients: Barack Obama and John McCain.

Eight Republicans and eight Democrats asked the two presumptive presidential nominees to work with them on health-care reform.

"You have both made health-care reform a top priority," said the senators who have co-sponsored the Health Americans Act introduced by Bennett and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

"Like you both, we are deeply committed to avoiding a replay of the bitter, highly polarized health reform effort during the 1990s," they wrote. "We believe that a strong, bipartisan coalition of senators and a sound fiscal base will allow a reform initiative to survive the assaults of politics."

They added, "We know if we start working now on health care reform with you and your key staff, our efforts will succeed soon after a new president is sworn in."

The group is pushing for reforms to help Americans afford private health insurance; make health care portable as workers move from job to job; provide choice of where health care is obtained; promote preventive medicine; and reform the market so insurers must compete on price, benefits and quality.

Senators in the group are Bennett; Wyden; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Judd Gregg, R-N.H.; Mary Landrieu, D-La.; Norm Coleman, R-Minn.; Joe Lieberman, Independent Democrat-Conn.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii; Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; and Gordon Smith, R-Ore.