"We're doing our best to push forward to see if we can find something that works so that we can bring it back to the Legislature in time for them to fully consider it," Haslam said.
Haslam's suggestion last month that a deal could be in the works brought swift criticism from Republicans in the Legislature, including Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who said it appeared the governor was "not very serious" about the proposal because he hadn't consulted with the General Assembly.
Haslam shrugged off Norris' suggestion.
"I can assure you we've been very serious about it, or we would have thrown in the towel a long time ago," he said.
Norris said Friday that he has met with Haslam to stress the importance of keeping lawmakers in the loop about any proposals. "It's going to take a lot of communication," he said.
Lawmakers this year enacted legislation supporters called the "Stop Obamacare Act" that requires the governor to get their OK on any deal on Medicaid expansion.
According to the law: "The Governor shall not make any decision or obligate the State of Tennessee in any way with regard to the expansion of optional enrollment in the medical assistance program ... unless authorized by joint resolution of the General Assembly."
Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Brian Kelsey of Germantown, a main sponsor of the bill, said Friday that the measure's overwhelming passage shows that lawmakers aren't interested in any deal.
"I don't see any way possible that the people's representatives will vote to allow Obamacare and Medicaid expansion in Tennessee," he said.
Pennsylvania in August became the 27th state to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law, and the ninth run by a Republican governor.
Under that deal crafted by Gov. Tom Corbett's administration, private insurers can administer Medicaid-funded coverage that adheres to Medicaid's existing rules. Corbett, who faces a tough re-election bid this November, had been under pressure from hospitals, labor unions, the AARP and advocates for the poor to accept the Medicaid expansion money, which became available Jan. 1.
Haslam, by contrast, faces no serious opposition in his bid for a second term in November.
He declined to speculate whether he could settle on a concept for Medicaid expansion before the election.
"To be honest with you I would have thought we would have worked out something — or not — by this point in time," he said. "It's a laborious process back and forth."
Haslam has been criticized by Democrats for refusing last year to agree to $1.4 billion in federal funds to cover about 180,000 uninsured Tennesseans under the terms the money was offered.
The governor has sought to negotiate a special deal for Tennessee that would allow the state to use the federal money to subsidize private insurance and promote healthier lifestyles through incentives and to create a health provider payment system that stresses rewards for keeping patients healthy through preventative care and management of chronic illnesses.