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Now? No reflux. And no medication. “You gotta eat a little slower. You have to eat slightly smaller portions,” he said. “If I eat too fast, I feel a little cramping pain because the magnet doesn’t release pressure fast enough.”
Berg acknowledged that the future of Linx may depend on how the cost of the technology compares to a lifetime of taking pills that may only mask the symptoms but do nothing to stop reflux. Torax is gathering data to show that, over time, Linx could save money. Torax has just bought a database of 80 million GERD patients to better break down the costs of the disease, Berg said.
The idea is to try to identify those patients for whom Linx makes economic sense. In the meantime, patients will continue to appeal insurance denials; many prevail, Berg said, but the process is time-consuming and limiting.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota had shown interest in working with Torax to conditionally approve Linx as part of a broader study. But the company reversed course earlier this year and decided not to participate.
In a letter to Berg, a Blue Cross official said the company was “not willing to create an exception” to its policy of not covering the device for purposes of a study. Blue Cross’ position on Linx, the official said, “is consistent with the position of other local health plans.”
James Walsh • 612-673-7428