Senior scientists at federal health agencies deserve more money, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said on Tuesday.

Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which oversees the national health institutes, said he was pleased that the Institute of Medicine had issued a report this week backing higher pay for scientists under a bill he introduced in the Senate's final session.The measure would affect researchers at the National Institute of Health, the centers for Disease Control, The Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, and the Food and Drug Administration.

"All our health agencies . . . lack the authority to compete with salaries offered scientists by medical schools and private industry," Hatch said."They face a real recruiting problem without adequate pay to offer."

He added that the average pay for department chairmen at medical schools was from 45 percent to 70 percent higher than the top federal salary level.

The bill cleared committee in 1988, but failed to reach the floor.