Please correct me if I'm wrong here:
Demuxing the DTS-HD MA audio track from a Blu-ray and remuxing with something like mkvmerge is a lossless transfer of the original file. It does not need decoded if it's just being remuxed.
Converting the audio to ac3 with eac3to "movie" 1) 3:audio.ac3 will not be able to decode the lossless portion but should correctly decode the DTS core and encode to ac3.
As long as you are ok with the DTS core only being used for the AC3 conversion there is no reason to use something like totalmedia for decoding the HD MA track.
Is all of this correct?
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I believe that's all correct. Without a pay-for decoder like ArcSoft the only way to keep or use the DTS-HD track is to remux it.
And then you'll still only get the DTS core unless your player/receiver supports DTS-HD.