Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I have sought recognition to submit a resolution reauthorizing the John Heinz Senate Fellowship Program. This Congressional fellowship program, created in 1992, is a fitting tribute to my late colleague and dear friend, United States Senator John Heinz. Senator Heinz dedicated his life and much of his Congressional career to improving the lives of senior citizens. He believed that Congress has a special responsibility to serve as a guardian for those who cannot protect themselves. This fellowship program, which focuses on aging issues, honors the life and continues the legacy of Senator Heinz.
During his 20 years in the Congress, John Heinz compiled an enviable record of accomplishments. While he was successful in many areas, he built a national reputation for his strong commitment to improving the quality of life of our Nation's elderly. Pennsylvania, with nearly 2 million citizens aged 65 or older--over 15 percent of the population--houses the third largest elderly population nationwide. As John traveled throughout the State, he listened to the concerns of this important constituency and came back to Washington to address their needs through policy and legislation.
Senator Heinz led the fight against age discrimination by championing legislation to eliminate the requirement that older Americans must retire at age 65, and by ensuring full retirement pay for older workers employed by factories forced to close. During his Chairmanship of the Senate Special Committee on Aging from 1981-1986 and his tenure as Ranking Minority Member from 1987-1991, Senator Heinz used his position to improve health care accessibility and affordability for senior citizens and to reduce fraud and abuse within Federal health care programs. Congress enacted his legislation to provide Medicare recipients a lower cost alternative to fee-for-service medicine, as well as his legislation to add a hospice benefit to the Medicare program.
John also recognized the great need for nursing home reforms. He was successful in passing legislation mandating that safety measures be implemented in nursing homes and ensuring that nursing home residents cannot be bound and tied to their beds or wheelchairs.
The John Heinz Senate Fellowship Program will help continue the efforts of Senator Heinz to give our Nation's elderly the quality of life they deserve. The program encourages the identification and training of new leadership in
aging policy by awarding fellowships to qualified candidates to serve in a Senate office or with a Senate Committee. The goal of this program is to advance the development of public policy in issues affecting senior citizens. Administered by the Heinz Family Foundation in conjunction with the Secretary of the Senate, the program allows fellows to bring their firsthand experience in aging issues to the work of Congress. Heinz fellows who are advocates for aging issues spend a year to help us learn about the effects of Federal policies on our elderly citizens, those who are social workers help us find better ways to protect our Nation's elderly from abuse and neglect, and those who are health care providers help us to build a strong health care system that addresses the unique needs of our seniors.
The Heinz fellowship enables us to train new leaders in senior citizen advocacy and aging policy. The fellows return to their respective careers with a new understanding about how to work effectively with government, so they may better fulfill their goals as senior citizen advocates.
The John Heinz Senate Fellowship Program has been a valuable tool for Congress and our communities since its establishment in 1992. The continuation of this vital program will signal a sustained commitment to our nation's elderly. I urge my colleagues to join me in cosponsoring this resolution, and urge its swift adoption.