Members of Congress and their staffs receive "the same treatment as all small businesses," the D.C.'s health insurance exchange director said — even though "the federal government is a large business," according to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

"The provision under the Affordable Care Act that speaks about congressional enrollment essentially overrides the small businesses size, and that's how you're able to avail yourself of the of the same choices that small businesses have in the district," Mila Kofman, executive director of the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority, told Sen. David Vitter, R-La., during a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing Wednesday.

Kofman was explaining why congressional employees get a subsidy to buy insurance on the D.C. Small Business Health Option Program exchange.

"Congress gets the same treatment as all small businesses in the district," Kofman said to counter Vitter's suggestion that this policy amounted to special treatment for Congress. She acknowledged, though, that "in the district, we do not allow larger employers to come in [to the SHOP exchange]."

When Vitter pressed Kofman about what "justifies this completely different" treatment for Congress, Landrieu interjected with a reply.

"The federal government is not a small business, the federal government is a large business," she said. "And the federal government — Congress, employees, postal workers, as you know very well, because you've studied this issue very well is under the same [provision] as large businesses [in] America. And that insurance premium is shared between the worker and the government, their employer."