The Public Health Service will set up a super-executive corps of up to 350 top-notch researchers next year who would be paid salaries ranging from $61,000 to more than $134,000.

Biomedical or clinical researchers hired for the new Senior Biomedical Research Service would be outside the regular civil service system and could be paid salaries up to the Cabinet-rank level. The senior service has been a longtime dream of health service officials. It was included in the Treasury-Postal Service Appropriation Act recently signed by the president.

Rep. Silvio O. Conte (R-Mass.) introduced the senior service plan and put it in the funding bill -- which also included a federal pay plan -- that Congress approved just before it adjourned.

Federal officials have complained that they can't get or keep top scientists because of low government pay and benefits. The new senior service also allows certain researchers who join the National Institutes of Health or the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration to transfer pension benefits built up in educational institutions.

The legislation authorizes salaries ranging from Grade 15 to Executive Level One, which is Cabinet rank. GS 15 now pays $59,216, while Cabinet officers get $107,300.

Regular federal workers will get a 4.1 percent pay raise in January. In addition, the president is expected next month to order pay raises for the 8,000 members of the government's Senior Executive Service and raises for top executives. The effect of the two unrelated raises would move GS 15 starting pay to $61,288 in January, and Executive Level One to $134,100. Blue Cross Deductible

I moved a decimal point yesterday, thereby ruining the day for people thinking about joining the Blue Cross standard option health plan. The glitch changed the 1991 deductible -- which will be $250 -- to a whopping $2,500. What a difference a period makes.

The column was about the deductibles and catastrophic illness limits of various health plans. The deductible is the amount you must pay before insurance kicks in. Once the catastrophic illness limit is reached, the plan takes over and covers most expenses above that amount.

The Blue Cross standard option pays 75 percent after a $250 deductible. Its hospital inpatient deductible is $100 per admission. Its catastrophic illness limit is $2,500. Insurance Shopping Tips

Walton Francis, author of the Washington Consumer Checkbook guide to federal health plans, will answer questions about prices, benefits and best buys Saturday at noon on WNTR radio (1050 AM). Jim Boren Day

Jim "When in Doubt, Mumble" Boren, founder of the International Association of Professional Bureaucrats, is heading back to Oklahoma to be political science scholar-in-residence at Northeastern State University. Friends will give him a special send-off Dec. 19 at a luncheon to benefit the Circus Saints & Sinners Club charity. For details, call 202 775-2370. Time Off

I'm taking a couple of days off, and will be back in this space next week.