President Barack Obama, speaking to a labor union crowd Monday, said he still supports providing a public insurance option to compete with private insurance plans, but he stopped short of saying it was a bottom-line requirement.In a Labor Day address in Cincinnati, Obama said: “I see reform where Americans and small businesses that are shut out of health insurance today will be able to purchase coverage at a price they can afford. Where they’ll be able to shop and compare in a new health insuranceexchange — a marketplace where competition and choice will continue to hold down costs and help deliver them a better deal. And I continue to believe that a public option within that basket of insurance choices will help improve quality and bring down costs.— White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Monday morning that “the president thinks it’s a very valuable tool. I think the president thinks we have to have choice and competition.—A framework for a comprehensive health care reform bill circulated this weekend by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) did not include a public option but did provide for the establishment of nonprofit health insurance cooperatives.Republicans have been fiercely opposed to a public option. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement Monday saying “Washington Democrats should listen to the American people and abandon their plans to impose a job-killing government takeover of health care.—Obama will make a nationally televised address to Congress on Wednesday to spell out his health care reform agenda in greater detail.