The Senate will be under heavy pressure next month to modify a House-passed plan that would force more than 7 million public and private retirees to pay twice for catastrophic health insurance protection under Medicare.

Under the House plan, retirees 65 and older would pay much higher Medicare premiums for the new protection. Premiums would be based on taxable income. That feature would hurt federal and other retirees who get taxable pensions rather than receiving Social Security benefits that are not taxable. Also, most federal and many private health plans already offer some form of catastrophic coverage.

The National Association of Retired Federal Employees estimates that a typical U.S. retiree who draws $13,566 a year would have to pay $530 more in Medicare premiums. Private industry retirees, whose incomes come mostly from Social Security, would pay much smaller premiums.

Reps. D. French Slaughter Jr. (R-Va.) and Daniel E. Lungren (R-Calif.) have proposed that the coverage be optional. Under their plan, rejected by the House, retirees already covered by plans with catastrophic protection wouldn't have to pay for the duplicative benefit. Maryland and Virginia legislators have formed a bipartisan coalition to protect public and private retirees from paying more for a benefit they don't need.

Money Back Guarantee

The American Federation of Government Employees Baltimore Social Security Administration local plans a new benefit next year for its 6,000 members: a refund of union dues when they leave government. The plan is that all dues paid after next January would be refunded to members when they leave government, or to their estates when they die. Dues go up next month from $5.50 to $6.50 every two-week pay period.

Federation officials say dues will be kept in a trust fund and first payments will be made 3 years after the program begins.

Japanese Studies

The Fulbright Exchange Program is accepting applications from those interested in six- to nine-month research projects in Japan involving business, law, journalism, public administration and other professional fields. For information, call the Council for International Exchange of Scholars tomorrow at 939-5474.

Married vs. Single

An outside arbitrator upheld the Federal Aviation Administration's refusal to pay dual moving benefits to a married FAA couple transferred to another city.

The husband, an air traffic specialist, claimed that because both he and his wife are FAA employes, they should get separate moving benefits. FAA said it would have done it that way had the couple been living together without benefit of clergy, but because they were legally wedded, they came under the employe-with-spouse rule.

The National Association of Air Traffic Specialists says the decision is unfair. The couple says it makes second-class citizens out of married folk.

Man Bites Paper Story

Newspaper editorial writers love to zero in on delivery problems when the Postal Service seeks a rate increase. For that reason, postal brass are happily passing around copies of a letter written by James F. Ainsworth, an obviously satisfied customer in Michigan. His look-who's-talking note said:

"Newspapers like to refer to the 3-cent stamp, but I wonder how much the local newspaper cost then. One other point, I never have had my letters thrown in a mud puddle or on top of my roof." My droll newspaper deliverer would probably respond that given a uniform and $27,000 a year, his aim might improve.