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Health care law business requirement delayed

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The Obama administration says it's delaying a major part of the president's health care overhaul law, the requirement that medium and large companies offer coverage, leaving local businesses scrambling for answers. 

In an announcement late Tuesday from the Treasury Department, the administration said it has heard requests from business groups for additional time to comply and will grant another year.

The health law requires companies with 50 or more employees to offer affordable coverage or face potentially large fines if just one worker ends up getting taxpayer-subsidized insurance.

The rule is now delayed from taking effect until 2015.

Many companies that already offer health care are upset by the White House's announcement, but other businesses see it as an opportunity to stand out in a competitive job market.

At the Lime Fresh Mexican Grill on Pentagon Row employees work for hourly wages and tips, but regardless of their hours, everyone qualifies for health care. At Lime Fresh, managers say offering health care gives them a competitive advantage.

“We want to be the employer of choice for service restaurants so we’ve offered health insurance to every team member who elects it and we’ve done that since 2010,’ says Mike Hedrick, the director of operations at Lime Fresh.

Some republicans see this week’s announcement as an opportunity to overturn the employer mandate altogether.

That worries part-time arts administrator Mya Weil, who has been waiting for the new rules to go into effect so she can qualify for more affordable health insurance coverage where she works 30 hours each week.

“I will be disappointed. I think that my health care costs will go down substantially. I pay quite a lot and the benefits are not as good as what the employer offers,” she says.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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