House Democratic leaders cleared the way yesterday for approval of the catastrophic-illness insurance bill for Medicare recipients when Reps. Claude D. Pepper (D-Fla.) and Edward R. Roybal (D-Calif.) agreed that they would not offer their costly long-term home care plan as a floor amendment.

Pepper, in a phone interview, said that in a meeting with Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and other leaders he had "agreed I would not offer my amendment, I and Mr. Roybal," but that in return, Wright and others had pledged to "find another vehicle for a vote this session" on the Pepper-Roybal proposal.

He said the insurance bill is expected to come before the Rules Committee, which he heads, the week of July 20 to obtain a rule to govern floor procedures, and go to the floor later that week.

The long-term care plan would cost $27.5 billion over five years, or almost as much as all the other provisions of the insurance measure. House leaders had feared that because of its high costs, the Pepper-Roybal proposal would complicate House action and possibly lead to a veto of the bill.

The administration has reservations because the bill includes outpatient drug benefits and other add-ons to the president's initial catastrophic-illness insurance proposal.