BOSTON (AP) _ Massachusetts' governor on Tuesday announced a plan to help the state's elderly pay for prescription drugs, urging legislators to enact it into law during budget negotiations.

Gov. Paul Cellucci's proposal calls for seniors who earn more than 150 percent of the federal poverty line to pay $49 a month in premiums. After a $1,500 deductible, all prescription costs would be paid.

The proposal comes on the heels of President Clinton's proposed Medicare overhaul, which calls for new, universal coverage for prescription drugs for Medicare recipients and the elimination of patient co-payments for preventive services.

Under Cellucci's plan, elderly people who make below 150 percent of the poverty line _ which comes to about $12,360 for an individual _ would pay no premiums and get unlimited coverage after paying a $750 deductible.

The proposal must compete with rival plans adopted by both chambers of the state Legislature in their budgets. A final budget is being forged in a conference committee.

Cellucci first announced a plan to set up a state-supported insurance program to help pay for prescriptions in May.

Sen. Richard Moore, chairman of the Senate Health Care Committee, called the governor's proposal ``a good first step.''

Becky Derby, a spokeswoman for Health Care for All, said Cellucci's proposal for seniors to pay premiums for the program was a good concept. But she said her organization had qualms about the proposal, including Cellucci's description of it as only a temporary program.

The state now has a $30 million program that helps low-income elderly people pay for prescriptions, but officials acknowledge it is not adequate.

In its proposal, the House called for changes in eligibility requirements so more people could get benefits.

The Senate proposed a $100 million program that would double funding for help to the low-income elderly and add another $40 million for a program for better-off seniors facing massive drug bills.

Cellucci's plan came in between the House's and Senate's with a price tag of about $50 million.