There is an article in this month's ACEP News that discusses the ramifications of the CA Supreme Court ruling earlier this year against balance billing. For some reason you have to be an ACEP member to see it but here's the summary:
And here's the link for anyone who might be an ACEP member.
It notes that since the ban on balance billing the lawyers have started to circle both with the intent of suing on behalf of anyone who was billed after the ruling as well as trying to get the courts to apply the ruling retroactively. That means that if you were paid for services in the past you could be forced to give that money back.
Let me again point out that while Emergency Physicians are affected by this it also affects any physician who takes call for an Emergency Department. The prohibition on balance billing means that if you are obligated to care for a patient under EMTALA and that patient is with a plan that you do not contract with you are obligated to accept whatever base rate that plan deems "appropriate." If some HMO pays its contracted docs $100 to do a chole and you do an emergent chole on one of their patients you'll get $100 and you have no other recourse to be reimbursed.
I should also point out that the ideas about getting cash up front don't apply here as we're talking about EMTALA mandated care.
So be afraid. This type of legislation is becoming more and more popular and it's almost impossible to defeat it politically.