Does anyone care about the opinions of former Senate majority leaders? What if one was once his party’s presidential nominee and another one nearly became President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services?

Today, former Senate majority leaders Bob Dole, Tom Daschle and Howard Baker released a health care plan they claim includes the kind of compromises necessary to win significant support from both parties.

The plan seeks to reconfigure health care reimbursement to focus on health outcomes, a tricky maneuver to say the least. But that’s just one of the ways they hope to reduce costs. It’s not where the compromise comes in. The former senators want to tax health care benefits over a certain level (something most Dems are against), mandate coverage (something Republicans don’t like), cap premiums and out-of-pocket percentages (market controls that aren’t usually popular with the right) and create state-level insurance systems rather than a federal one (and you know the left has their heart set on a Big Daddy system coming out of Washington).

Whether this plan is any good or not is up for debate. But at least Dole, Daschle and Baker are making a concerted effort to draft bipartisan legislation. Rather than trying to ram through one side’s idea or saying no to every idea, this plan takes a shot at bringing everyone to the table.

Dole says a true bipartisan bill should be able to win the votes of 20 Senate Republicans. That’s a tall order. But if enough congress people buy into the idea of compromise (and there is some common ground out there), it might be possible. Whether a compromise bill ends up being any more effective than one forced through by Democrats is unknown. But I think it’s definitely the way we should be heading.

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