WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sens. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., are the first to be named to a new commission that will look for ways to save Medicare from financial crisis in the next century.

The two senators were appointed this week to the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

Creation of the commission was part of this summer's balanced budget deal, in which lawmakers also agreed to reduce payments to health care providers to save Medicare from bankruptcy at least until 2010.

Fifteen other commission members still must be named before Dec. 1 by other congressional leaders from both political parties and Clinton.

The appointees do not have to be members of Congress, and a variety of private sector health care experts, as well as ordinary Medicare beneficiaries, are said to be under consideration.

The commission is required to report to Congress by March 1, 1999.