As a cattle and grain farmer from Howard County and program director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, I work with hundreds of rural families throughout Missouri.

I have seen many of the struggles Missouri farmers and rural people face, which is why I support Medicaid expansion.

I always appreciate the thoughtful debate that Steve Spellman brings to mid-Missouri through his community radio show, but I disagree with his recent opinion piece about Medicaid expansion.

The facts show that expanding Missouri’s Medicaid program, MO HealthNet, would bring much-needed federal funding into our state.

Rural Missouri has been hit hard by COVID-19, and our rural hospitals and many health care providers are in desperate need of these funds to keep seeing patients.

These added federal dollars would save our state $39 million in the first year of expansion and help keep our rural hospitals open as critical points of access to care.

Further, the law guarantees the federal government would cover 90% of the costs to expand Medicaid in Missouri.

The federal government has made timely payments to states for the last 50 years without fail, and there is no reason that would change now.

Furthermore, hard-working farmers and families have already paid these funds through federal taxes, and we deserve for them to be used to help our friends, neighbors and families here in Missouri instead of those in other states.

Since the legislature has failed to act, it is time for Missourians to make their voices heard. On Aug. 4, we have an opportunity to strengthen the health of our rural communities and our state budget by voting YES on Amendment 2.

Rhonda Perry is program director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a grassroots organization of 5,500 farm and rural families with a mission to preserve family farms, promote stewardship of the land and environmental integrity and strive for economic and social justice by building unity and mutual understanding among diverse groups, both urban and rural.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.