President Obama told American Urban Radio Networks's April Ryan Monday that he stayed up to watch the Senate's early-morning vote on a health care bill and said he's confident Congress can work out the "five percent" difference between the House and Senate bills.
"I was up because I wanted to make sure that I was watching what could end up being an historic moment," Obama said.
The president sought to downplay the lack of a public health insurance option in the Senate bill, saying: "There is so much good in this bill, and I'm now confident that it’s going to pass."
"I think people need to understand just how significant this is," Obama told Ryan.
The public option, he said, "is an area that has just become symbolic of a lot of ideological fights." But, Obama added: "As a practical matter, this is not the most important aspect of this bill — the House bill or the Senate bill."
Only "a few million people" who buy into the insurance exchange set up in the bill would have benefited from the public option, he said.
"So it wasn’t like suddenly everybody would just go out there and buy a government-run plan," Obama said. "Most people will still get health insurance from their employers."