As an alternative to President Clinton's proposal on prescription drug benefits for older people on Medicare [front page, June 29], we have a suggestion for covering the cost of drugs for all Americans.

The per capita cost for drugs is so low -- $34 a year -- that a prescription drug benefit could be afforded for every American at minimal cost, by charging all 100 million workers and 40 million retirees $63 a year -- $5 a month -- a pro rata share of the total national drug cost, which was $8.8 billion in 1996.

All workers are supporting the cost of Medicare through their Medicare payroll tax. By tacking on the fixed amount of $63 a year to this tax, all Americans would be covered. Fixed maximum taxes are used for state taxes such as disability, etc.

A consequence of this action would be to eliminate the charge for prescription drugs from all health insurance programs, as well as elimination of deductible charges, co-payments or maximums for drugs.

Both Medicare and Social Security are set up to administer universal enrollment and should be able to administer this prescription drug benefit with slight additional cost.



Princeton, N.J.

The writers co-chair the Princeton Task Force on National Health Care.