The Senate is preparing to debate and vote on its version of a bill to provide catastrophic health insurance protection under Medicare for persons who are 65 and older. The House has already passed its version of the bill.

The House bill would base premiums for the new catastrophic coverage on individuals' taxable income, which would not include income from Social Security benefits. Opponents of the House plan argue that the premium structure would require federal retirees -- who generally get most of their income from taxable federal annuity benefits -- to pay as much as $500 per year more for the coverage than what many nonfederal retirees pay. They also argue that most federal retirees have catastrophic health protection as part of their federal health insurance program, and under the plan they would be required to pay more for coverage they already have.

There are several proposed amendments that would lessen the premium bite for federal retirees in the Senate bill. Whether they pass or fail it could be weeks before the Senate and House set up a conference committee to iron out differences in their catastrophic insurance bills.Horner to Labor?

If Labor Secretary William E. Brock quits to join the presidential campaign of Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), the odds-on favorite to succeed him is Office of Personnel Management Director Constance Horner, according to syndicated columnist Robert Novak. Novak, who has excellent lines into the Reagan administration, made the prediction Saturday on WRC-TV's "McLaughlin Group." Horner has let it be known she would be happy to join the Cabinet which, with the departure of Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole, is now an all-male preserve. Footnote: Former OPM director Donald Devine is already working in the Dole campaign. People

Justice Department's Mary Jean S. Moore and Social Security Administration's James K. Leatherman are the two local winners of this year's awards for outstanding handicapped federal employes. She's a lawyer and he is a specialized equipment officer in Baltimore. Other winners of the prestigious awards are Elizabeth U. Ramon, Air Force, Madrid; Terry Van Meter, Army, Fort Riley, Kan.; Jill M. Raile, Bonneville Power Administration, Portland, Ore.; Thomas J. Sardina, General Services Administration, Milwaukee; Beverly S. Armitage, Justice Department, Lexington, Ky.; Marie T. Kaptein, Navy, Philadelphia; Scott T. Welch, Treasury, New Orleans, and George M. Moore Jr., Veterans Administration, Cleveland.

Government Printing Office's George J. McFarlane will retire this month after more than 20 years with the world's biggest printing factory. GPO will have a reception for him Oct. 29. He has been manager of special projects which includes getting out annual updates of two of Uncle Sam's most popular reference books, the Congressional Directory and Government Organization Manual. Job Mart

The Internal Revenue Service seeks a Grade 8 information management technician, who must have civil service status. Call Ann Pope at 566-9481.