Rush of calls as Medicare deadline draws near

The administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says the agency has "seen a real surge" today as seniors sign up for a drug benefit.

Today is the deadline for recipients to enroll in a prescription drug plan. Administrator Mark McClellan says about 40,000- 50,000 people have been on the agency's Web site at any given time today. And he says operators at the toll-free number are getting a rush of calls.

First lady Laura Bush and top administration officials went to a registration drive at a Washington D-C church today. She urged people who don't need medicine now to sign up anyway because "it's likely" they'll eventually need prescriptions.

Late enrollees have to pay a penalty based on how many months late they are in signing up. Operators will keep taking calls until midnight West Coast time.

For more information log on to or call 1-800-MEDICARE.