Schwartz was born Allyson Young in Queens, New York, to Everett and Renee (née Perl) Young. Her mother left Vienna in 1938 after Germany annexed Austria, and came to the United States, where she settled at a Jewish foster home in Philadelphia. Her father was a dentist in Flushing, Queens, and a veteran of the Korean War. She has a brother, Neal, and two sisters, Nancy and Dale. Schwartz graduated from the Calhoun School, on the Upper West Side of New York City, in 1966 and then enrolled at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Simmons in 1970, as well as a Master of Social Work degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1972.
She worked as assistant director of the Philadelphia Health Services Department from 1972 to 1975, and executive director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Center, a reproductive health clinic in Philadelphia, from 1975 to 1988.
In 1990, Schwartz ran for Pennsylvania's 4th senate seat, based in Northwest and Northeast Philadelphia. She won the Democratic primary with 50% of the vote, defeating Jeff Blum (28%) and Robert Blasi (22%). In the general election, Schwartz defeated incumbent Republican State Senator Joe Rocks 58%-42%.
Redistricting pushed Schwartz's seat into Montgomery County. In 1994, she won re-election to a second term by defeating Republican Tom Scott 82%-18%. In 1998, she won re-election to a third term unopposed. In 2002, she won re-election to a fourth term defeating Republican Ron Holt, the Montgomery County Register of Wills, 82%-18%.
During her first term, Schwartz was instrumental in Pennsylvania’s legislative efforts to provide health care coverage to the children of middle-class families, leading to the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1992. CHIP served as the model for the federal plan that now provides health insurance to millions of children.
In a 2002 PoliticsPA feature story designating politicians with yearbook superlatives, she was named the "Best Dressed," to which she responded "I appreciate the honor...it must be the scarves."Education (Ranking Member)
In 2000, she decided to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. Pittsburgh-area U.S. Congressman Ron Klink won the crowded, six-candidate Democratic primary with a plurality of 41% of the vote. Schwartz ranked second with 27% of the vote, dominating the southeastern part of the state, most notably Philadelphia (60%) and Montgomery (62%) counties. She also won two counties outside of the region: Centre (33%) and Union (38%). However, this was not enough to overcome Klink's dominance in the western part of the state.2004
In 2003, Democratic U.S. Congressman Joe Hoeffel, of Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district, decided not to run for a fourth term, in order to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Arlen Specter. Schwartz had originally planned to run for Auditor General, but changed her plans after Hoeffel's announcement. In early 2004, she moved from Philadelphia to Jenkintown in Montgomery County, where she still lives today. She won the Democratic primary, narrowly defeating former Philadelphia deputy mayor and National Constitution Center director Joe Torsella 52%-48%. She won 62% of Montgomery while Torsella won 57% of Philadelphia. While most former state legislators raise comparatively more money through PACs than individual donations, she raised $4,597,032 from individual donations and comparatively little ($558,376) in PAC donations. The 13th had long been reckoned as a classic Northeastern "Yankee Republican" district, but had become increasingly Democratic in recent years. A Republican presidential candidate hasn't carried it since 1988, and it has been in Democratic hands for all but four years since 1993. In the general election, she defeated Republican Melissa Brown 56%-41%, winning both counties.2006
Schwartz won re-election to a second term, defeating Raj Bhakta, a contestant on The Apprentice 2, 66%-34%.2008
Schwartz won re-election to a third term, defeating Republican attorney Marina Kats, 63%-35%.2010
Schwartz won re-election to a fourth term, defeating businessman Dee Adcock 56%-44%. Her 12-point margin was the smallest in her congressional career.2012
After redistricting, Schwartz's district was given a heavier Democratic tilt, with 52% of the district based in Philadelphia county. She won re-election to a fifth term, defeating Republican Joe Rooney 69%-31%.
Schwartz was a member of the New Democrat Coalition and was the chair of the New Democrat Coalition Taskforce on Health. In this position, she had actively pushed for the greater use of interoperable and secure electronic prescribing systems throughout the country in an attempt to decrease medical errors as well as costs and liability to providers, health systems and patients. In January 2014, Schwartz resigned from the taskforce chairmanship in the New Democratic Coalition.
Schwartz was the first Democratic member of the House of Representatives to call for Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign following his photo scandal.
Representative Schwartz voted against the Amash amendment to limit NSA surveillance activities.Abortion
Schwartz is pro-choice, and in 2011 received a 100% rating from NARAL. She voted twice against Republican-led efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and supported legislation requiring hospitals to provide emergency abortion care to women who could die without it.Health care
Schwartz is known as one of the leading health care experts in government. She authored several key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including increasing access to primary care, banning pre-existing conditions exclusions and allowing young adults to remain on their parent’s health coverage.Veterans
The first piece of legislation Schwartz introduced after being elected to Congress focused on providing tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed veterans. The bill was signed into law in 2007. In 2011, Schwartz introduced the Hiring Our Veterans Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in November of that year. The Hiring Our Veterans Act increased the tax credit for employers that hire veterans with a service connected disability who have been unemployed for six months or more, veterans who have been unemployed for at least four weeks, and veterans, not necessarily with disability, who have been unemployed for at least six months.
In 2012, Schwartz introduced the Servicemembers' Access to Justice Act to improve the enforcement of Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. Schwartz was backed by Senator Bob Casey, who introduced this legislation in the Senate on May 23, 2012 (Schwartz, 2012).Committee on Ways and Means
Prior to 2013 she was also a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and prior to 2014 she was the Vice-Ranking Member of the Committee on the Budget.
Schwartz announced her intention to give up her House seat to challenge incumbent Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, who was up for re-election in 2014. On April 8, 2013, Schwartz officially launched her campaign. In February 2013, Schwartz stated that she would not run for re-election for the United States House of Representatives. Ultimately, she was defeated by Tom Wolf in the Democratic primary.
Schwartz is married to Dr. David Schwartz, a cardiologist, and they live in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. They have two adult sons, Daniel and Jordan.