STEPHEN HAWKING IS ALIVE AND WELL…. The estimable Jay Bookman discovered this unintentionally-hilarious item in the Investor’s Business Daily on health care reform. The headline reads, “How House Bill Runs Over Grandma.”

The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the “quality adjusted life year.”

One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on.

The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.

People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.

Human Events, the right-wing magazine, lauded this IBD piece for having “exposed the Achilles’ heel of Obamacare.”

Now, it might be tempting to respond to the IBD piece by noting that the health care reform proposal backed by Democrats is in no way similar to the British health care system, so these mind-numbing comparisons don’t make any sense. That, of course, would be a fair response.

But let’s not overlook the punch-line here. As Bookman noted, “Of course, that same Stephen Hawking who wouldn’t have a chance in the United Kingdom was in fact born in the United Kingdom, has lived his entire life in the United Kingdom and lives there still today, at the ripe old age of 67. (He was in fact hospitalized earlier this month.) Hawking is, you might say, living, breathing proof that these people are first-class fools.”

Ever wonder what the reform debate would be like if conservatives approached it with a shred of intellectual seriousness?

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.