By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – Federal approval is still pending, but the Corbett administration is moving ahead with its plan to use Medicaid dollars to extend private health coverage to more than half a million uninsured Pennsylvanians.

A month ago, Governor Corbett said negotiations with the Obama administration over his health insurance plan were at a “breaking point” (see related story).

But last week, he said things had improved, “We’ve had good discussions, I understand, since a couple of weeks ago when I spoke up a little bit there. And things are moving along.”

They’re moving along enough, apparently, that Corbett is now asking insurance companies that want to participate in the program to make bids, even though the feds have yet to give their OK.

Department of Welfare spokeswoman Kait Gillis also says time is of the essence, “We have to do it now, due to the procurement process.”

Gillis says the administration wants to launch the health insurance program by January first.