By Elise Viebeck - 03/06/13 06:14 PM EST
House budget chief Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) recently angered GOP centrists when he said people who are now 59 and younger might not be exempt from his Medicare overhaul.
Ryan's plan would partially privatize Medicare under a premium-support model, a move opponents worry would shift costs to seniors.
In the past, Ryan promised that no one 55 and older would be affected by the changes. But now, House Republican leaders have promised a budget that will kill the deficit within 10 years, a task that requires deep cuts.
The Budget Committee met Wednesday morning. Afterward, Flores said he could go with either 55 or 56 as the bright line indicating who will eventually enroll in a partially privatized Medicare.
"Most of us tried to be careful last year in the way we communicated by saying 'at or near retirement' without using a hard age," he said. "What we'll have to start doing is saying 'this year is when these reforms start to take effect.' "
Woodall said the politics of the choice, which Democrats are watching closely, do not interest Budget Committee members.
"That committee is full of people who really don't much care what the political implications are," Woodall said. "There may be people who are working on the political questions but I don't know who they are."