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My Takeaway from The Supreme Court’s Health Care Decision

Supreme-courtI started in this profession 30 years ago this month.  As an auditor, one of the things I’ve always liked is that we are in the unique position of being paid for our opinion. Not just any opinion, mind you, but a reasoned, objective opinion based on the evidence we gather and the application of professional judgment.

A lot has changed in the world of communications in those 30 years. There seems to be an increasing emphasis on making the provocative statement to draw attention, increase readers or Twitter followers. In spite of this irreversible trend, I have held fast to the now quaint notion that there will always be a place in the business world for sound, independent analysis and advice.

The most striking thing about the Supreme Court’s decision was not the decision itself, but the media debacle in reporting it. 

I was driving in my car listening to NPR when the decision was announced, and the first reporting declared that the individual mandate had been struck down. As it turns out, just the opposite was true. I later learned that both CNN and Fox News got it wrong, too. 

I was reminded again of the value CPAs provide their clients and employers. We don’t have to be first; we don’t have to be provocative. We need to be thoughtful and reasonable and at the end of the day, we have to be right. Having the facts straight, the way CPAs must, would have prevented the mistakes CNN, Fox News, and others made.

Your employers and your clients will undoubtedly be asking you many questions about what this health care decision means to them and their businesses. Most of the people asking the questions have not been following the law until this point because so many of its provisions have yet to be enacted. Yesterday’s ruling will be the first time they’ve really had to question how they will be affected. For them, saying that the law was largely declared to be constitutional, while accurate, may not be particularly useful.

My sense is that yesterday’s decision will not put an end to the health care debate.  Your clients and others will continue to ask for your opinion and analysis. 

Here’s a timely, correct and substantive article from the Journal of Accountancy that breaks down the decision for the accountant’s perspective. It may not play well on cable news or the blogosphere, but it has those qualities upon which we’ve built our reputation: factual, objective and imminently useful.

If you’re interested in more of this kind of reporting, be sure to join our discussion about the implications of the Court’s decision on Monday, July 2 or July 9. I can’t promise the fireworks of cable news, but I can promise we’ll get the reporting right. 

Michael Ramos, Director of CPE and Training, American Institute of CPAs. Mike sets the strategic direction and manages operations of the professional development business unit at the AICPA. He combines his understanding of technical audit and accounting issues with his communication skills and experience to advance AICPA CPE offerings. He is the author of many books and training courses on SOX 404, internal control and other auditing matters.

Front of the U.S. Supreme Court image via by Shutterstock

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