Relating to well being coverage, former Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who died Saturday at age 88, leaves a posh legacy of main legislative achievements, altering positions, compromises and fierce opposition. In some ways, although, Hatch’s evolution and management on well being coverage throughout his 4 many years within the U.S. Senate mirror that of the Republican Social gathering.
When he got here to Washington as a neophyte politician after an upset victory in 1976, Hatch was a conservative firebrand, one of many early leaders of the “New Proper” bent on dismantling the federal welfare state and banning abortion. A former trial lawyer, the brand new senator had by no means earlier than held public workplace.
However the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the Republican takeover of the Senate that made Hatch chairman of the highly effective Labor and Human Sources Committee (now the Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pensions Committee) turned him into one thing of a pragmatist. That pragmatism, it needs to be famous, was considerably compelled: Although Hatch was technically the chair, there have been sufficient average Republicans on the panel to provide the rating Democrat, Massachusetts’ Edward Kennedy, efficient management over what could possibly be handed by the committee.
So Hatch discovered to compromise — and to legislate. In 1984, he negotiated with liberal Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., what continues to be known as the “Hatch-Waxman Act.” It is higher often called the legislation that allowed, for the primary time, approval of generic copies of brand-name medication. Though removed from a panacea, it’s nonetheless the single-biggest advance within the struggle to rein in excessive drug costs.
When the Democrats took again the Senate after the 1986 elections, Kennedy turned chairman of the committee and Hatch, the rating Republican. The 2 teamed up on a collection of landmark legislative achievements, from the Ryan White program on AIDS treatment and the Americans with Disabilities Act to the primary main federal child care law. And whereas Hatch was a powerful foe of nationwide medical health insurance, he and Kennedy finally pushed by means of Congress in 1997 the invoice to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which supplies low-cost medical health insurance for low-income households who do not qualify for Medicaid.
The stridently anti-abortion Hatch was outspoken about his assist for federal funding for analysis on embryonic stem cells derived from aborted fetuses. “I believe it is the final word pro-life place, as a result of I consider being pro-life is not only caring for the unborn however caring for many who live,” he told NPR in 2007.
However like a lot of the Republican Social gathering in Congress, Hatch returned to his conservative roots after the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. A supporter of the so-called particular person mandate requiring folks to have medical health insurance when it was the quasi-official GOP place within the early Nineties, Hatch turned an outspoken foe. “Congress has never crossed the line between regulating what folks select to do and ordering them to do it,” he stated in 2010.
After average Utah Republican Sen. Robert Bennett was ousted in a major in 2010 and changed by conservative favourite Mike Lee, Hatch grew extra conservative to win reelection in 2012. His last time period within the Senate was marked by efforts to overturn the Affordable Care Act and additional restrict abortion access. The religious Mormon, who in his spare time wrote lyrics for best-selling Christian music, even referred to as the ACA “the stupidest, dumb-a** invoice that I’ve ever seen. Now a few of you’ll have cherished it; when you do, you might be one of many stupidest dumb-a** folks I’ve ever met.” He later apologized for the assertion.
A former Kennedy aide, Jim Manley, instructed The Salt Lake Tribune that “nobody epitomizes the rightward lurch of the Republican Social gathering greater than Sen. Hatch.”
In a single last twist, nonetheless, Hatch pushed as his successor the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. In simply his first few years, Romney has grow to be one of the crucial average Republicans within the chamber. That will show to be Orrin Hatch’s last legacy.
KHN (Kaiser Well being Information) is a nationwide newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about well being points. It’s an editorially impartial working program of KFF (Kaiser Household Basis).