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Appalachians are dying faster than other Americans.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

According to a new study, people in rural Appalachia suffer from rising infant mortality rates and falling life expectancy rates. As The Washington Post writes:

The country made gains on those health measures over the next two decades, but progress in Appalachia stalled. Between 2009 and 2013, the infant-mortality rate was 16 percent higher in Appalachia than in the rest of the country. People could expect to live 2.4 years less than their counterparts in the rest of the United States.

This is partly because of the opioid epidemic, and partly because many states in the Appalachian region refused to expand Medicaid. But Appalachia’s problems do not exist in isolation. Americans die because they’re poor.

Consider the racial health gap. Black Americans experience an infant mortality rate of 11.1 vs. 5.1 for whites, part of an overall life expectancy gap between racial groups. It corresponds to a significant racial wealth gap. Another wealth gap separates Appalachia from the rest of the country. Meanwhile, the country’s richest households are experiencing explosive wealth growth.

At The New York Times, David Leonhardt reports that the median American income is falling—for most. The wealthy are doing just fine:

The New York Times

The rich get richer; the poor die faster. These facts suggest an obvious solution: Expand the safety net by redistributing wealth.