A new round of high-level budget negotiations opened Thursday, shadowed by vanishing expectations that Washington would rally around a broad budget bargain or an overhaul of entitlement programs this year.

Republicans had hoped changes to Medicare could be part of a sweeping deficit-cutting deal. But just a few weeks after nearly all House Republicans cast politically risky votes for a plan to transform the popular health program, GOP leaders say such a far-reaching proposal isn’t likely to advance.

The chairman of the House committee that oversees Medicare said Thursday that he had little enthusiasm for taking action in the face of stiff opposition from Democrats. The GOP proposal would end Medicare’s benefit guarantees for people under 55, replacing them with a system of government-subsidized, private insurance plans when they reach retirement age.

“Frankly, I’m not interested in talking about whether the House is going to pass a bill that the Senate shows no interest in,” House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) said Thursday. “I’m not interested in laying down more markers. I’m interested in solutions.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) acknowledged that Mr. Camp had grounds for skepticism, calling his comments a “recognition of the political reality that we face.”

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