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Utah Life Sciences News & Events

BioUtah Remembers Senator Orrin Hatch

April 28, 2022

Senator Orrin Hatch, who served 42 years in the Senate and is the longest serving Senator in Utah’s history, died at 88 last Saturday. He is remembered fondly by Utah’s life sciences industry as a stalwart champion for medical innovation and improving the lives of patients.

Reflecting on the Senator’s life and legacy, Kelvyn Cullimore, president and CEO of BioUtah, said, “Senator Hatch was a political giant. He was a tireless, passionate and effective advocate for Utah and the country for decades. I know from my years as a board member of the Medical Device Manufacturers Association how revered he was by our industry nationwide as our number one champion!”

Among the numerous causes he took on was repeal of the medical device tax that had passed as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. He sponsored legislation to fully repeal the 2.3% percent excise tax and kept up the fight until the tax was finally repealed in 2019. He visited medical device companies in the state and understood that the tax would stifle R&D, hurt job creation and put Utah’s fast-growing device industry on its heels. Not one to mince words, Hatch once called the medical device tax a “stupid dumbass tax.” 

Senator Hatch received BioUtah’s Public Service Award in 2013 and the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

During his Senate tenure, he held influential committee chairmanships, including chair of the Senate Finance Committee and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He influenced legislation ranging from tax and trade to religious liberty and healthcare, and was known for his ability to reach across the aisle.

His death was announced in a statement by the Hatch Foundation. an organization founded after he left office. Matt Sandgren, the foundation’s executive director, put it this way, “Senator Hatch touched the hearts of countless individuals and I know I speak for all of them when I say he will be dearly missed.” That says it all.