Obama: Public option ‘not the most important’ part of healthcare bill

President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaTrump notes 'election meddling by Russia' in tweet criticizing Obama Trump slams Obama for doing 'nothing' about Russia before the election OPINION: Dear media, Americans don't care about Obama's legacy MORE said Monday that Congress should approve a final healthcare bill even if it doesn’t include a public option.

Obama said the House and Senate bills are 95 percent “identical” and downplayed the fact that final legislation is unlikely to include a public health insurance option during an Oval Office interview with American Urban Radio Networks’ April Ryan.

“There's 5 percent differences, and one of those differences is the public option,” Obama said.

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“But this is an area that has just become symbolic of a lot of ideological fights. As a practical matter, this is not the most important aspect to this bill — the House bill or the Senate bill.”

Obama rejected criticism from liberal and African-American groups that see the absence of a public option in the Senate bill as a cave-in to insurance companies, who will get millions of new customers because of mandates that require people to buy insurance.

There is a public option in the House bill, but a public option was stripped from the Senate bill two weeks ago.

Obama hailed the fact that the legislation will extend insurance to more people while downplaying the lack of a public option.

“But either way, whether there's a public option in there or not, if you don't have health insurance, you are going to have now the option of getting it at a reasonable cost,” Obama said. “And that's the most important thing.”

Obama said he stayed up to watch the Senate take a key procedural vote on healthcare just after 1 a.m. Monday morning.

“I was up because I wanted to make sure that I was watching what could end up being a historic moment,” the president said.

Obama said he is “now confident” the bill is going to pass, saying, “There is so much good in this bill."