Had heard something like an elder care facility cannot 'go after' funds in an owned home but that may not apply to funds used to rent a home.

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Taking funds that otherwise are countable for purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility and purchasing a home (now an exempt asset) can indeed be a great way to protect the assets. However, there are complications when a spouse is involved. I recommend you read a copy of my eBook on this very topic, "Protecting Your Home," part of my Medicaid planning eBook series.
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Medicaid will NEVER kick the spouse out of their home. A landlord will.
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I don't think there is any advantage about the renting or not.

I think it would be better to stay in the house. In 2013, the maximum amount of the institutionalized spouse’s income that can be protected for the community spouse is $2,898 a month. There will be a lien on the house for half the house's net value. But that is a lien. In other words it will not be taken until the house is sold.
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Husky, if the spouse is using Medicaid to help for nursing home care, in most States Medicaid will put a lien on the house that person owns to help recapture funds that were used for the care of one's love one, after the person had passed. There are exceptions, it varies from State to State. Like you can remain in the house yourself for the rest of your life, again varies from State to State.

Now if you own a house and sell it, then move to a rental. Half of the equity from the house would go to help pay for the spouse's care in a nursing home.

Your best bet is to make an appointment with an Elder Law Attorney as they specialize in things like this, and help you go through the maze of signing up for Medicaid, if needed in the future.
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