John Diehl receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Minnesota State Bar Health Law Section


The Minnesota State Bar Health Law Section recognized five attorneys with Lifetime Achievement Awards. The award was created this year to recognize an exceptional class of retiring health law attorneys who have made significant contributions to the practice area during their careers.  Larkin Hoffman is pleased to announce that attorney John Diehl was one of the five recognized.  Here is a brief summary of John Diehl’s contributions to the field, as noted by Bench & Bar magazine.

One might assume that if a person shows up day after day for 50 years, he might be able to accomplish something, and so it has been with John Diehl. Through the private practice of law, public service, and civic involvement, he has been a change agent in the healthcare system in Minnesota and around the country. 

In the policy arena, John Diehl developed the laws to authorize and regulate health maintenance organizations, thus establishing the format for a structured, vertically integrated healthcare system—the predicate for our current system and the future of healthcare delivery. Perhaps even more significantly, in 1975 he “invented” the “assigned risk pool” strategy that made affordable individual health insurance available to persons with preexisting conditions who could not buy insurance. 

There is a maxim that great lawyers are a product of great clients, so Mr. Diehl is justifiably proud that his private practice clientele has included the Aetna Life & Casualty Co., University of Minnesota Hospitals and Clinics, the American Hospital Association, the Minnesota Hospital Association, the Minnesota Medical Association, the Mayo Clinic, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Organizations, the Hennepin County Medical Society, the Sisters of Providence, Fairview Health System, the Allina Health System, and many others. 

Rural healthcare has especially benefited from Mr. Diehl’s involvement. In the 1970s he helped develop a network of specialty providers that held clinics in small towns throughout Minnesota. And, as Medicare evolved from a cost-based system, he was an advocate for critical-access hospitals. And he modified state laws to allow the mostly rural governmental hospitals to engage in cooperative ventures and other emerging structures so as to remain viable players in our evolving system. 

John also designed, developed course materials, and taught “Health Law” from 1977 to 1987 (the first such course in American law schools), and throughout his career he has been a frequent lecturer for the healthcare industry and health law organizations. He has also been a healthcare system “insider,” serving as a board member (for 20 years) and chair of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, a member of the board of the Minnesota Hospital Association, a member of the board of directors of the East Metro Medical Society Foundation, a founder and 20-year board member of the federally qualified community health center known as Open Cities, and a 20-year volunteer and board chair of the American Cancer Society. 

John has also been actively involved with the development of the health law bar. In the mid-70s he was part of the group of lawyers that established an informal health law interest group (which evolved into a Hennepin County Bar Association committee), an MSBA health law committee, and, ultimately, the MSBA Health Law Section. Over the years, he served as a member of the section governing council and as its treasurer, secretary, vice chair, program chair, and chairman. 

The health law bar is characterized by the high quality of creative, ethical lawyers, who are chosen to represent these important clients. So through it all, the most interesting and rewarding aspect of his practice has been the privilege to work (and play) with many of our most outstanding lawyers. Thus, it is Mr. Diehl’s abiding pleasure to have practiced with the likes of Horace Hanson, Joe Hamilton, Jim Geraghty, Jules Hannaford, Joel Tierney, Greg Orwall, Ben Hippe, Kevin Hughes, Jack Kennefick, Bruce Hanson, Greer Lockhart, Tom Vogt, Jack Wood, Gary Davis, Fremont Fletcher, John Stone, Margo Struthers, Mike Putzier, Paul Torgerson, Jay Christianson, Pat Plunkett, Jack Brevieu, John Beattie, Todd Freeman, Kit Friedemann, Jim Platt, Jon Oviatt, Gordon Apple, Tim Johnson, Jan Halvorson, Keith Dunder, Susan Kratz, Mary Foarde, Kathy Young, David Melloh, Dan McInerney, David Feinwachs, Dick Wexler, Dave Hutchinson, Terry O’Brien, David Glazer, Steve Lokensgard, Patrick Cole and many others, who have contributed in such a positive way to our community through their diligent and effective work as lawyers.

Bench & Bar magazine