A just society cares for its most helpless members. Senator John Heinz lived each day by that simple creed.
Motivated by his deep belief in individual dignity, John Heinz strove to protect the most vulnerable citizens of our society, particularly children and the elderly. As a philanthropist, he focused on the development of inventive programs to empower the disenfranchised and he worked to create practical social models that could ultimately lead to policy change.
That same spirit guided his political career. John Heinz authored legislation to protect the Social Security benefits of the elderly and prevent their premature entry into nursing homes. He also fought to ensure that disabled children, denied federal benefits because they suffered from unapproved illnesses, were provided the benefits to which he passionately believed they were entitled.
As a fundamental tenet of his belief that our government has an inherent responsibility to guarantee the well-being of all members of our society, John Heinz regarded basic and preventive health care as a right - not a privilege. He dedicated himself to the creation of an equitable health care system that no longer would neglect children, the elderly, or the poor. John Heinz also fought to make the best health care technology available to those who need it most, including expectant mothers in need of prenatal care and poor children with special needs. At the same time, he worked to stop the fraudulent and abusive practices driving up the cost of health care.
The Heinz Award in this category honors individuals who have developed and implemented significant new programs to improve the human condition. The Award seeks to recognize outstanding efforts to empower and protect all individuals, based on a fundamental belief that the degradation or victimization of any of us ultimately impoverishes us all.