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PunditFact: Fact-checking the April 6 news shows

A pair of politicians on Sunday debated gun policies on military bases in the wake of the Fort Hood shooting, while a conservative pundit wanted to talk Obamacare poll numbers.

On Fox News Sunday, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., discussed what could have been done to prevent last week's shooting, which killed four including the shooter.

McCaul noted that most servicemen are prohibited from carrying guns while on a military base and said that Congress should consider lifting the prohibition. Kaine said the decision should be left up to commandeers, not politicians, and tried to downplay the idea that guns aren't available or accessible on bases.

McCaul also advocated for more vigorous mental screening before someone enlists. "When people enter the service, there's not a mental health evaluation," he said. That claim turns out to be True.

Compared to the physical medical examination potential enlistees go through, there is no separate, specific examination of a recruit's mental health. While the armed services review past medical records for a history of mental health issues and allow for the applicant to offer any additional information, it has not prevented a sizable number of individuals with mental health problems from acceptance, according to at least one study.

Just days before the Fort Hood shooting, Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., introduced the "Medical Evaluation Parity for Service Members Act," which would require a medical evaluation before an individual enlists in the armed forces.

"Although the military currently has a baseline measurement process for physical health, the military does not currently have similar standards for mental health," says the legislation, which is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Military Officers Association of America and the American Psychological Association.

Later in the show, talk turned to the federal health care law — and news from the White House that more than 7 million people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Conservative pundit Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said the achievement isn't much to celebrate.

After all, she said, it's unclear how many people are actually paying for their health insurance, and how many people now getting coverage were previously uninsured. On top of that, Cheney said public support for the health care law is dropping.

"The numbers of people that support Obamacare and like it have been steadily dropping," she claimed.

That claim rates False.

According to a Real Clear Politics average of nine major polls from March 16-31, 40.4 percent of Americans favor the health care law while 52 percent oppose it. That's just about where things stood a year ago, according to Real Clear Politics, and up from December 2013 when just about 37 percent of people supported the health care law.

Polls on the health care law have been pretty consistent, said Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

In fact, a new poll from ABC News and the Washington Post even has Democrats hoping they're flipping the Obamacare narrative. For the first time in at least 20 ABC/Post polls since August 2009, more people said they supported the law than opposed it, with support hitting a high of 49 percent.

"It could be that the tide is turning," Bowman said. "We just don't know."

Staff writers Steve Contorno and Katie Sanders contributed to this report.

The statement

"The numbers of people that support Obamacare and like it have been steadily dropping."

Liz Cheney, on Fox News Sunday

The ruling PunditFact ruling: False

Americans remain divided on the health care law, and most polls show that more people oppose it than support it. But we found no evidence that people who once supported the law are "steadily" changing their minds, not even in a poll Cheney specifically cited. We rate Cheney's claim False.

The statement

"When people enter the service, there's not a mental health evaluation."

Rep. Michael McCaul, on Fox News Sunday

The ruling PolitiFact ruling: True

Compared to the physical medical examination potential enlistees go through, there is no separate, specific examination of a recruit's mental health. We rate the claim True.

PunditFact: Fact-checking the April 6 news shows 04/06/14 [Last modified: Sunday, April 6, 2014 11:30pm]

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