Iowa Professional Issues

Ask the Ethics Committee

Members of the NASW IA Ethics Committee answer questions from NASW Iowa Chapter Members

April 2018 edition: Should I refer my client to a lawyer for a potential malpractice claim?

Have an ethics question? 

One of the many benefits of NASW membership is an ethics consultation. Call the NASW IA office at 515-277-1117 or send us an email and we can route your question to our Iowa Chapter Ethics Committee for discussion or refer you immediately to our National Office of Ethics and Professional Review for an individual consultation with the international ethics experts on staff.

Legal Consultations

One benefit of NASW membership is legal consultation. Hopefully, you will never need it.  But if you do, know that you can call upon the NASW Office of General Counsel for assistance.   If you have a legal question, call the member services number at 1-800-742-4089 and ask for a legal consultation.   

If you have a legal question that relates to malpractice, and you have your liability insurance through NASW ASI, you can ask them for legal assistance as well.  Call them at 1-855-385-2160. 

For more information about the legal aspects of being a social worker, visit the NASW Legal webpage

Call or email the NASW-IA office for a list of attorney in Iowa who understand legal matters from a social work perspective: 515-277-1117 or

Can LMSWs bill insurance? 

Division XXVII of the Iowa HHS budget bill (SF2418 – 87th General Assembly, 2018)

Expressly spelled out that LMSWs may bill for their services under their LISW supervisors.

Private Insurance

Below is the text of an email that received from Chance McElhaney, Communications Director and Legislative Liaison at the Iowa Insurance Division dated 6-7-18:

Without speaking to the Medicaid portion (which would be under DHS authority) or any licensure portion (which would be handled under the authority of either IDPH or the appropriate board), there are two caveats that must be met for the commercial payer to pay for services rendered by provisionally licensed providers. 

1. The benefit must be in the individual's policy. If the benefit is not in the policy the commercial payer would not cover the service.

2. The licensed provider overseeing the provisionally licensed provider must have a contract with the commercial payer for the commercial payer to pay for services rendered by provisionally licensed providers.

So, if a policy already contains benefits for a licensed clinician (as identified in the statute), then provisionally licensed clinicians would be able to provide benefits and bill for services.  If the policy does not contain benefits for those licensed clinicians, the policy is not required to make payment for those licensed clinicians or provisionally licensed clinicians.  If the benefit is not part of the policy, carriers are not required to add it to the policy. 

According to another email dated 1-15-19 from McElhaney, the Insurance Division did not write any Administrative Rules around the legislation.


LMSWs were already allowed to bill under LISWs, so while DHS did write rules on the 2018 legislation, the new rules did not included social workers, because social workers were already in the Administrative Code.

See pg. 646

Chapter 77.26 (3) which deals with LISWs and

77.26 (4) which talks about LMSWs