MISSOULA, Mont. -

While no one has identified the organizations jockeying for a shot at Missoula Community Medical Center, the dollars and cents point to a cross-town merger.

Community says it would like to partner with a larger group with deeper pockets and more resources.  Providence definitely fits that bill.  They already own Missoula’s St. Patrick Hospital, along with others in 30 communities across five states.  

Providence is big.  We went to tax filings for an idea of just how big.  In 2011, Providence hauled in a whopping $3.6 billion dollars.  Their Missoula hospital accounted for $262 million of that.  The revenue could have been more if they hadn't lost out on nearly $152 million to Community.

The Billings Clinic is a possible suitor.  It's the largest independent health care operation in Montana, with 2011 revenues of $559 million dollars.  That's a lot of money, but it’s less than a third of the Providence group.

Some mention Kalispell Regional Medical Center as a possibility.  They’re a less likely suitor, however an aquisition in Missoula would extend their reach down the Highway 93 corridor. 

KRMC has been buying up properties closer to home for several years.  In 2011, Kalispel Regional reports revenue of $223.7 million.  It’s an increase from year to year, but far back on the list of possible buyers.