John Diehl served as General Counsel to University of Minnesota University Hospitals and Clincs from 1975 to 1983.
John Diehl begins his interview with a brief reflection on where he was born and raised, his education, and his first job as special assistant to the attorney general of Minnesota. He then discusses changes in health plans and his work as the chief of the Department of Health HMO, focusing on the development of a regulatory framework for health plans. He details the process of introducing the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) Act of 1973 and developing a grant-making function to develop and regulate HMOs. As part of this discussion, Mr. Diehl reflects on federal legislation regarding HMOs and the influence of professional organizations. Because of his work on HMO legislation, Diehl developed a close relationship with John Westerman and was invited to be general counsel to University Hospital. Mr. Diehl discusses all of the following in relation to his time as general counsel: changes in the governance of University Hospital with the establishment of the Board of Governors; the mentorship of John Westerman; Joel Tierney as University Attorney; the medical-legal protocol for minor donors in kidney donation; his responsibilities as the University Hospital general counsel; the end of sovereign immunity; the Hospital’s abortion policy; labor and student employment issues; the medical school’s private practice arrangement and patient rights; the hospital marketplace; certificate of need law; the University’s designation as a basic center for emergency services; and hospital consortium and regional health systems. He then reviews his experiences with Medicare and Medicaid over the course of his career and the rising costs of healthcare. Mr. Diehl also discusses Hospital’s expansion, the Hospital bonding bill and the deal’s failure, poor University publicity, and the set-up and dismantling of Regional Co-ops. He concluded with the development of the Committee on Thanatology and various legal matters concerning death and dying.
John Diehl was born in Des Moines, Iowa on December 18, 1941. He earned his bachelor’s degree and his law degree from the University of Iowa in 1964 and 1969, respectively. He moved to Minnesota for his first job, special assistant to the then Attorney General of Minnesota, Doug Head. He left public service to work for the Minneapolis law firm Howard, LeFevere, Lefler, Hamilton & Pearson. Mr. Diehl was then appointed as Chief of the Department of Health HMO in 1973. In 1975, Mr. Diehl became General Counsel to University of Minnesota University Hospital. He served as general counsel until 1983, when he left the University to pursue broader applications for new approaches to health law at the law firm Larkin Hoffman. He has served on many associations and committees related to health law and health administration and founded the National Association of HMO Regulators in 1974 and the Minnesota Society of Hospital Attorneys in 1976.